[Met Performance] CID:208450
Turandot {77} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/9/1966.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 9, 1966


TURANDOT {77}

Turandot................Anita Välkki
Calàf...................James King
Liù.....................Mirella Freni
Timur...................Bonaldo Giaiotti
Ping....................Theodor Uppman
Pang....................Robert Nagy
Pong....................Charles Anthony
Emperor Altoum..........Mariano Caruso
Mandarin................Robert Goodloe
Prince of Persia........David Milnes
Servant.................Lawrence Eddington
Servant.................Craig Crosson
Servant.................Harry Jones
Executioner.............Howard Sayette
Executioner.............Donald Mahler
Executioner.............William Burdick

Conductor...............Kurt Adler

Review of William Bender in the World Journal Tribune

OPERA: SHAKEY "TURANDOT"

The turn came last night for the American tenor James King to walk a familiar gantlet at the Metropolitan Opera.

This involved singing his first Calaf in the Met's production of Puccini's "Turandot" without benefit of rehearsal with orchestra and full cast. Such things happen often at the Met because the company's subscription system requires runs of given operas to be stretched out over the season. Obviously, the Met can't afford an orchestra rehearsal every time a new singer joins the cast.

What was the result in this case? Terribly disappointing. King's past accomplishments and reputation as a dramatic - even heroic - tenor had seemed sufficient advance guarantee that his Calaf would be something out of the ordinary. But it wasn't. The voice itself lacked the one thing the role must have - heroic ring. He was not projecting, and there was little vocal thrill or excitement as a result. He rushed attacks, and his acting was often a case of misplaced enthusiasm more than anything.

It seemed to me that part of the problem was that the line of the music didn't really suit his particular vocal equipment, but what do you do in a case like that where everything seemed to be going against him? He even had to contend with conductor Kurt Adler, whose integration of the events on stage and in the pit could only be called fuzzy. I think you just admit the possibility that King may have been lost out there among Cecil Beaton's towers and shadows and may also have been - well, nervous. It's too bad that such a possibility has to be considered, but that is a peril of the Met system.

The Turandot was Anita Valkki, making a seasonal bow in a familiar role. As usual, she was not fully warmed up for her Act II "In questa reggia" - few sopranos other than Birgit Nilsson ever are - but her singing turned for the better in Act III. It was Mirella Freni, however, who stole the show with the touching look and the vocal purity and ease of her Liu.



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