[Met Performance] CID:209890
La Gioconda {207} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/27/1967.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 27, 1967


LA GIOCONDA {207}

La Gioconda.............Renata Tebaldi
Enzo....................Franco Corelli
Laura...................Rosalind Elias
Barnaba.................Cornell MacNeil
Alvise..................Bonaldo Giaiotti
La Cieca................Ruza Baldani
Zune...................Russell Christopher
Ispo...................Robert Schmorr
Monk....................Louis Sgarro
Steersman...............Nicola Barbusci
Singer..................Paul De Paola
Singer..................William Mellow
Dance...................Nira Paaz
Dance...................Howard Sayette

Conductor...............Fausto Cleva

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Dallas Times Herald

Corelli's Enzo Highlights Met "Gioconda"

NEW YORK - After an absence of about four months, Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" returned to the Metropolitan in a splashy performance which illustrated anew just how good this new production is. "Gioconda" has never gone on tour, and it's easy to see why. The opera needs six major dramatic singers, a huge corps de ballet and an enormous chorus. When you add those requirements to the Met's massive new staging, you have an immense package.

In the performance this night, THE singer, the one who outdistanced and outclassed all his rivals was Franco Corelli as Enzo. Mr. Corelli sings a more exciting Enzo than any tenor I can remember, including Del Monaco, Tucker, or Roswaenge.

HIS ENZO is purely sensual; the dramatic beauty of his voice poured out and filled every corner of the opera house. But his loudness did not make him great; instead, it was his vocal refinement combined with his huge tone that so overwhelmed the listener.

His concluding B Flat in his big aria in Act Two, "Cielo e mar," began as a forte and ended as a near pianissimo with no change whatsoever in the color of the tone. The duet in Act One with Barnaba demonstrated Corelli's phenomenal range and consistency of vocal timbre, while his final fourth act High C gorgeously completed a performance that created an ideal Enzo.

BENI MONTRESOR'S set and costumes should delight audiences in Dallas as they have those in New York. The first act duplicates the Square of San Marco in Venice, looking from the Grand Canal. The yellows and reds of the costumes emphasize the festive holiday air of the scene.

In the second act, Enzo's ship dominates, and in the third, red sweeping curtains frame the grand hall of the Ca d'Oro which is lighted by golden candelabra supported by nude statues. Gioconda's hide-away on the Guidecca exudes wild colors and decay. Pastel, tattered curtains
hang over broken down doors and, through the archways in the rear, can be seen the Grand Canal.

The costumes complement the sets. Particularly bright are the dancers: Brilliant yellow for those representing daytime hours and deep purple for those of the night hours in the "Dance of the Hours" ballet. The choreography seems traditional, but is consistently interesting.

RENATA TEBALDI repeated her portrayal of the street singer, La Gioconda. Her major aria, "Suicidio," captured the desperation and the utter frustration of this woman of tragedy. Throughout the fourth act, in which she sings constantly, her dramatic characterization was particularly vivid. At other times, she dominated where appropriate and always sang inimitably. The audience adored her.

Her blind old mother, La Cieca, received a sterling performance at the hands of Ruza Pospinov. Miss Pospinov has a powerful, well-focused voice which she used beautifully and dramatically both in the first act aria, "Voce di donna," and in the third act finale.

The role of Laura, the true love of Enzo, needs a heavy mezzo-soprano with a wide and controlled range. Rosalind Elias has her vocal interpretation well in hand and sang quite musically.

"LA GIOCONDA" does not pretend to offer involved or complicated music. As a singers' opera, it has been popular in New York for eight decades; Dallas will be fortunate to see such a glittering new production with the same singers who this year have sold out 12 enthusiastic performances in New York.



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