[Met Performance] CID:229260
Fidelio {127} Hynes Civic Auditorium, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/28/1972.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
April 28, 1972


FIDELIO {127}

Leonore.................Leonie Rysanek
Florestan...............Jon Vickers
Don Pizarro.............William Dooley
Rocco...................John Macurdy
Marzelline..............Joy Clements
Jaquino.................Leo Goeke
Don Fernando............Paul Plishka
First Prisoner..........Nico Castel
Second Prisoner.........Edmond Karlsrud
Captain.................Harold Sternberg

Conductor...............Hans Wallat

Review of Michael Steinberg in the Boston Globe

The Met's 'Fidelio': a good score unobscured by cast

One thing about Beethoven's "Fidelio," which the Metropolitan Opera gave in Hynes Civic Auditorium last night, what you have there is an unassailably good score. And about the performance one can say it was at least on a level not to obscure that about the work.

It is a production directed by Otto Schenk, a sort of stock "Fidelio," looking worked out rather than thrown together, though with only the most ordinary intelligence and fantasy. The settings are by Boris Aronson, ponderous and badly proportioned for the domestic scene at the beginning, quite effective in a 1930-ish sort of way for the prison scenes. Aronson designed the costumes also, and that went well. The conductor was Hans Wallat, whose usual parish is Manheim, and who steered the piece along in an earnest, fairly tensionless sort of way, but with intermittent periods of wakefulness.

Leonie Rysanek sang Leonore: a very mixed package. On the strong side, good musicianship, exciting high notes, and a concern, a sense of engagement, that is very likable; then, at the same time, erratic management of her voice, so the registers don't match, with steadiness and intonation always in peril, to which you add a hopelessly non-boyish appearance and a tendency to fling herself about the state in frenzies.

And from Jon Vickers, the Florestan, a similarly disconcerting mixture, with both intensity and taste contributing to magnificent singing of his aria, but with much scooping and straining after that, and disturbingly bad spoken German throughout.

From William Dooley, the Don Pizzaro, there was only intelligence, concentration, economy, good pitch, and a superb command of the language; a performance of striking elegance and distinction. Joy Clements played Marzelline hard as nails, which was underlined by her tendency to ride always just a hair high on the pitch. Clements and Rysanek competing in the finale, one slightly sharp, the other slightly flat, made quite a caterwaul. Beyond that, highly competent performances from John Macurdy (Rocco), Leo Goeke (Jaquino), Paul Plishka (Don Fernando), Nico Castel and Edmund Karlsud (prisoners).

The chorus, so crucial to "Fidelio," sang well, particularly in the first act where only the men were involved. Had it not been for reckless lasing and banging with brass and drums the orchestra playing would have been good, in any event, the principal oboist, with many expressive things to do, was first-rate. I hope, though, that somewhere near the top of Goran Gentele's list of thing to change at the Met is a ukase banning the playing of the 3rd "Leonore" Overture between the two scenes of the second act; so destructive to the finale, that tradition is idiotic even if it was started by the now as-good-as-canonized Gustav Mahler.



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