[Met Performance] CID:210180
Aida {744} War Memorial Auditorium,, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/21/1967.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
April 21, 1967


AIDA {744}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Leontyne Price
Radamès.................Franco Corelli, Act I
Radamès.................William Olvis, Acts II, III, IV
Amneris.................Nell Rankin
Amonasro................Cornell MacNeil
Ramfis..................John Macurdy
King....................Raymond Michalski
Messenger...............Robert Nagy
Priestess...............Marcia Baldwin
Dance...................Nira Paaz
Dance...................Rhodie Jorgenson
Dance...................Naomi Marritt
Dance...................Patricia Heyes
Dance...................Howard Sayette
Dance...................Harry Jones
Dance...................Jan Mickens

Conductor...............Thomas Schippers

Review of Richard J. Cattani in the Christian Science Monitor (New England Edition)

Price and Corelli Spectacular 'Aida'

"Aida" as spectacle: The Met's production at War Memorial Auditorium last night was true to the opera's scale.

Large pillars, boldly laid down ramps, backdrops that gave the illusion of voluminous receding corridors; a night scene along the Nile with a neatly placed mood; a temple interior with an idol reaching to the flyers - Robert O'Hearn's sets, despite the shallow stage he had to work with, suggested the monumental side of the Egyptian era.

And the costumes, also designed by Mr. O'Hearn, a flair for the exotic, the grand was continued, especially in the triumphal march for the second act. Here soldiers, dancers, spear-shaking natives came on in festive garb - festooned with clusters of feathers, or trailing wisps of cloth.

Satisfying the Ear

The choreography and stage direction (by Katherine Dunham and Nathaniel Merrill) were superb. The cordons of marchers moved freely, and the throngs that watched them never appeared bunched. The triumphal ballet - starring Naomi Marritt, Patricia Hayes, Harry Jones, and Jan Mickens - was sinuous, tumultuous, and totally delightful.

But "Aida" is an opera, and no matter how much a production of it may feast the eyes, it must also satisfy the ear. When the multitudes disperse and only one or two singers are left on stage, they seem overpowered visually, immobilized by the dimensions of the set. Thus sound itself must be raised to the level of spectacle to fill the action vacuum.

Here too the Met production was a success..

Strong Cast

Leontyne Price in the title role has the ideal vocal equipment. She sang with power, with broad tonal gestures. So large is her voice that she had no trouble being heard even when competing with the several score chorus. The only flaw was a loss of tone when she pressed for volume in the lower range. But the rest of the time her voice was astonishingly clear, effortless. She seemed wholly at ease in the role and sent forth billboard-sized phrases of song that matched the work's dimensions.

We heard two tenors in the role of Radames. Franco Corelli was outstanding in the first act - in bearing and in sheer magnetism of his singing. But he did not appear for the second act and William Olvis took his place. Mr. Olvis soon warmed up and, though his voice lacks the biceps-flexing tension of Mr. Corelli, he quickly remade the role in his own image. The warm outpouring of affection for Aida, as in their final duet, was uniquely poignant.

Cornell MacNeil gave his usual excellently balanced performance as singer-actor in the role of Amonasro. John Macurdy was fittingly glum as the Establishment priest Ramfis. And Raymond Michalski sketched a pleasant King.

For many reasons, the role of Amneris is unwieldy. The emotions - frustrated love, jealousy, vengefulness, remorse - are unattractive. They are abrasive and would bring the flow of pageantry to a halt. Amneris is the Big Loser of the Nile, her plainness accentuated by the splendor around her and by the vivid romance of Aida and Radames.

Yet Verdi gave her many of opera's most compelling phrases. In scale they match the positive lines. And Nell Rankin brilliantly kept the characterization in focus, singing with an evenness and control that won her well-deserved bravas.

For conductor Thomas Schippers and the Met orchestra this "Aida" often seemed a rather routine spectacle. Yet the pulse was there, without which the work's ebb and flow of major passions would not have come alive. And watching Mr. Schippers carve the phrases of the final duet, one could only be impressed by the young conductor's gifts.



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