[Met Performance] CID:225650
Rigoletto {486} Masonic Temple Auditorium, Detroit, Michigan: 05/29/1971.

(Review)


Detroit, Michigan
May 29, 1971


RIGOLETTO {486}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Robert Merrill
Gilda...................Gabriella Tucci
Duke of Mantua..........Richard Tucker
Maddalena...............Judith Forst
Sparafucile.............John Macurdy
Monterone...............James Morris
Borsa...................Leo Goeke
Marullo.................Raymond Gibbs
Count Ceprano...........Richard Best
Countess Ceprano........Carol Wilcox
Giovanna................Carlotta Ordassy
Page....................Ivanka Myhal
Guard...................Paul De Paola

Conductor...............Carlo Franci

Review of Jay Carr in the Detroit News

Met's 'Rigoletto': sound yes, fury no

As usually, Metropolitan Opera week at Masonic Temple had its highs and lows. But there was this to be said about all seven performances: none were dull. Saturday night's "Rigoletto" came close, however. The surefire Verdi perennial was given a performance which was robustly sung, but dramatically flat-footed.

Robert Merrill was the Rigoletto, and his portrayal of the unlucky jester remains a particularly exasperating one. This is because Merrill has all the vocal equipment of the role. And his tones this trip sounded richer and rounder than they have in several season. But Merrill didn't seem very interested in character study. His Rigoletto was wooden.

It probably would be going too far to say that he walked through the role, but there was a notable contrast between artistry and workaday performance at the end. After Gabriella Tucci hade finished shaping a sensitive rendering of Gilda's death aria, and expired on cue, Merrill responded with an "E morta!" that contained as much of the crushing weight of doom as an airport loudspeaker announcement.

As Gilda, Miss Tucci was less than ideally cast. The coloratura writing requires a voice lighter and more agile than Miss Tucci's. But in addition to her warm, sweet, pliant tones, Miss Tucci sang with considerable finesse and came closest to registering a characterization of some emotional impact. There was quite a contrast between Merrill's hands

Although he tended to bull his way through the role of the Duke, Richard Tucker contributed a flow of vigorous tone, and where Merrill's tones had woof, Tucker's had bite. Tucker's Duke may not be an elegantly aristocratic figure, but there could be no doubting his ardor. John Macurdy's Sparafucile was neither sinister enough nor tonally imposing, but James Morris's Monterone was a standout.

In the only vocal cast change of the entire week, Judith Forst sang the role of Maddalena for an indisposed Nedda Casei, contributed an attractive stage figure, and made her presence felt in the ensembles. Carlo Franci's conducting occasionally took on a helter-skelter quality, but he kept the music moving, and Eugene Berman's sets continue to look like dignified tinted engravings.



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