[Met Performance] CID:209380
Il Trovatore {365} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/8/1967.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 8, 1967

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Richard Tucker
Leonora.................Montserrat Caballé
Count Di Luna...........Robert Merrill
Azucena.................Biserka Cvejic
Ferrando................Raymond Michalski
Ines....................Shirley Love
Ruiz....................Dan Marek
Messenger...............Hal Roberts
Gypsy...................Luis Forero

Conductor...............Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Review of Ron Eyer in Newsday

Soprano Is Spotlighted in Met's "Il Trovatore"

A storm of applause greeted the popular Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé when she returned to the Metropolitan Opera last night to sing her first Leonora in Verdi's "II Trovatore." With her were Richard Tucker, as Manrico; Robert Merrill, as Count di Luna and Biserka Cvejic as Azucena.

"Il Trovatore" really belongs to the tenor, the baritone and the chorus. Leonora is more a convenience of the plot than a key figure and her role is an oblique one, both dramatically and physicality. She stands a good deal of time passively listening to the protestations from Manrico of love for her and concern for his foster mother, Azucena, and she has only three important arias of her own. But the first two, which succeed each other quickly in the first act, are uncommonly beautiful and taxing.

The first, "Tacea la notte placida" ("Peaceful was the night") with its moderate pace is in some respects more difficult for the singer than the rapid and more brilliant "Di tale amor che dirsi" ("Of such a love how vainly") with its showy cadenza. Both require a voice of much power and agility, but the first is more implied, musically, and it makes more demands of the singer in the way of control.

Mme. Caballé had all that these arias required and more. In the first she had the ease and fluidity of true bel canto, and in the second she soared into the ornamentations of the coloratura passages with seemingly no effort whatever. Her voice is best in the top range where she moves about easily and without strain. The low voice tends to lose strength and color. One of the things that has distinguished her from many of her colleagues among the great sopranos is the youthful, almost girlish, quality of her voice. This quality was much in evidence, and quite appropriately, last night.

Both Tucker and Merrill were on their best behavior and Mme. Cvejic gave a gripping performance of the gypsy woman with "Stride la vampa" ("Fierce flames are soaring"). Tucker made a tour de force of his "Di quella pica" ("Tremble, ye tyrants") and, and not to be outdone, Merrill poured a golden tone into his famous love song, "Il balen del sue sorriso." Raymond Michalski, as the captain of the guards, also rose to the occasion with a rich-voice rendition of the ballad at the beginning of the opera which fills the audience in on what transpired before the curtain went up.

The conductor was Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, who knows his way around Italian opera, and the production was that of Herbert Graf with sets and costumes by Motley. The latter are due for an overhaul and the whole opera could do with a new production. The sets are unimaginative and poorly executed and the stage direction, however good it might have been, has deteriorated badly. "Shabby," perhaps, is the word for this outdated production.

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