[Met Performance] CID:217730
New production
Il Trovatore {373} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/6/1969.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 6, 1969
Benefit sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild
for the production funds
New production

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Plácido Domingo
Leonora.................Leontyne Price
Count Di Luna...........Sherrill Milnes
Azucena.................Grace Bumbry
Ferrando................John Macurdy
Ines....................Carlotta Ordassy
Ruiz....................Charles Anthony
Messenger...............Hal Roberts
Gypsy...................Luis Forero

Conductor...............Zubin Mehta

Production..............Nathaniel Merrill
Designer................Attilio Colonnello

Production a gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Il Trovatore received nineteen performances this season.

Review of Raymond Ericson in The New York Times

If last night's cast for Verdi's "II Trovatore" at the Metropolitan Opera had sung in street clothes, it would probably have made just as much of an impact on the audience as it did smothered in a new production designed by Attilio Colonnello. The Met had assembled a superb group of singers, turned musical matters over to Zubin Mehta, who conducted better than he ever has at the opera house, and then swathed the stage in a cave-like collection of stalactites and stalagmites.

The production dispenses with the gold curtain, so that the initial scene is in view as the audience is seated. The jagged, metallic stage frame even conceals the footlights and prompter's box. A drop curtain separates the scenes, which carry through the motif of the false proscenium. Moorish elements add stylistic confusion to sets that fantasize to an extent castles, cloisters, tents and prisons. There is a kind of sinister magnificence in its ugliness, and it is best ignored in favor of the singers.

Nathaniel Merrill's staging keeps the cast downstage as much as possible. Without giving them anything unconventional to do, he has persuaded them to act out with warmth and conviction the complex but strangely believable story of love, rivalry and maternal revenge. The director has handled the confrontation of two armies in the cloister with an ingenuity that makes it plausible, but a symbolic vision of Azucena in the first scene seems merely pretentious.

For the new production the Met had assembled a cast that in overall quality would be hard to surpass. Leontyne Price was the Leonora, Grace Bumbry the Azucena, Placido Domingo the Manrico and Sherrill Milnes the Count Di Luna. Performances of "II Trovatore" are frequently blessed with one or two superior singers but seldom with four, and this performance ran overtime because the singing frequently stopped the show.

Miss Price and Miss Bumbry were known quantities in their roles. The former poured out beautiful tones and sang her fourth-act aria "D'amor sull' ali rosee" with long, smooth phrases and a spinning tone. Miss Bumbry's voice, wonderfully dark in the lower register without being chesty in sound, and brilliant at the top, was exciting to hear and watch.

Mr. Domingo and Mr. Milnes were newcomers to their roles at the Met, and they were worthy of their colleagues. Mr. Domingo's voice is not a great big one, but it is perfectly focused, warm in quality, somewhat like Jussi Bjoerling's. And like the rest of the singers on this occasion, but unlike many tenors, he sang with taste and musicianship.

Mr. Milnes, young though he is, may be the finest baritone the company has at the moment. Whether he was singing lyrically or dramatically, his big, resonant voice and the intelligent style were always in evidence. There was equally good singing in the shorter roles.

The musical performance, from the singers onstage and the orchestra in the pit, had a fresh-scrubbed sound that was to Mr. Mehta's credit. There was plenty of verve in the conducting but no unnecessary drive and forcing. Musically poised and disciplined, this was the best presentation of the opera this listener has ever heard.

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