[Met Performance] CID:210140
Un Ballo in Maschera {98} War Memorial Auditorium,, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/17/1967.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
April 17, 1967


UN BALLO IN MASCHERA {98}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Somma

Amelia..................Leontyne Price
Riccardo................Bruno Prevedi
Renato..................Sherrill Milnes
Ulrica..................Ruza Baldani
Oscar...................Joy Clements
Samuel..................Lorenzo Alvary
Tom.....................Louis Sgarro
Silvano.................Russell Christopher
Judge...................Andrea Velis
Servant.................Robert Schmorr
Dance...................Patricia Heyes
Dance...................Ivan Allen
Dance...................Anthony Santiago

Conductor...............George Schick

Production..............GŁnther Rennert
Staged by...............Nathaniel Merrill
Designer................Ita Maximowna
Choreographer...........Thomas Andrew

Un Ballo in Maschera received eight performances this season.

Review of Michael Steinberg in the Boston Morning Globe

Met Debut Stars Verdi

"Un Ballo in Maschera," not given in Boston since the Metropolitan's visit in 1956, is very beautiful indeed, and a great pleasure to see and hear again. It is full of Verdi's grandest melody, and many details of scoring point ahead to his later works. The second act, moreover, with its progression from Amelia's aria to the grimly humorous finale, exhibits powers of large-scale construction that come close to what Verdi was to achieve again in the miraculous fourth act of "Don Carlo."

Implausible as many of the details are, "Ballo in Maschera" is singularly telling as drama. All the characters are vividly drawn, and Amelia, torn between a furiously selfish man and a humorlessly, masochistically selfish one, is one of Verdi's grippingly sympathetic female personages.

The Metropolitan performance at Boston Auditorium Monday night, which opened the company's week-long stay without being distinguished, maintained a presentable level. It is hard to infer now what of what one sees in Rennert, and what is Merrill remembering what Rennert wanted, and what, for that mater, comes from singers operating in oblivion of either element. In general, the production is clear, rather still in the fortune-telling scene, excessively placid at the moment of the King's assassination, but adequate rather than otherwise. It was a bit sloppily executed, and acted by people who looked and behaved like opera singers.

FANCIFUL DESIGNS

Maximova's designs are best when they can be most fanciful, that is, in finale with the Stockholm opera house - the Met sensibly returns the action to Sweden whence the Neapolitan censors had exiled it to Massachusetts.

George Schick conducted with good sense of pace, noble phrasing of lyric melody and quite enough bite and fire for the fast music. He succeeded in imposing musical discipline on the performance. The orchestral playing as such was a pleasure and the woodwind solos before and during Amelia's second act aria, and the third act cello solo were played exceptionally well.

Amelia is a singularly difficult part: it needs all of Aida's high notes, but in addition requires a force in the low register far beyond what is called for in comparable roles. Leontyne Price's best singing in the duet with the King, and in "Morro, ma prima in grazia," was superb indeed, grand in style, handsome in sonority. There was, however, the repeated shock of the hollow, unsubstantial low notes, whose lack of quality and of sheer physical weight diminished the effect of many phrases.

MILNES EXCELLENT

Sherrill Milnes made an excellent impression as Anckarstroem, the King's assassin (Renato in the more familiar version). His baritone voice has brilliant quality, though it, too, is a bit weak in the lowest notes, and he uses it with good musical taste and with impressive dramatic force. These qualities, especially the ringing high notes, make him into a valuable Verdi baritone, and there are, I would think in Milnes the makings of artist of the first rank.

Prevedi is an amiable and somewhat dull singer, who sometimes uses his strong and steely voice for singularly choppy, inelegant singing, but who was also capable of matching Miss Price's singing in the second act duet with responses that came close to being as grandly done, and who managed the intense though quite, asides during the last act's minuet intelligently and effectively. The rakish charm of the character he suggested almost not at all.

Ruza Pospinov used a rich and even voice effectively as Ulrica. Joy Clements played Oscar with charm of person, singing it very effectively in its lyric pages like the first act finale and the main part of "Saper voresti," but the lack of sharp accentuation, in spite of admirable accuracy, doing less well with the coloratura.

Lorenzo Alvary rather overplayed Count Horn (better known as Samuel) though not without effect. Louis Sgarro and Russell Christopher did their roles competently, while Andrea Velis did especially well with his tiny part as the Chief Justice.



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