[Met Performance] CID:236630
L'Elisir d'Amore {130} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/25/1974.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 25, 1974


Adina...................Judith Blegen
Nemorino................Luciano Pavarotti
Belcore.................Mario Sereni
Dr. Dulcamara...........Ezio Flagello
Giannetta...............Loretta Di Franco

Conductor...............Max Rudolf

Review of Speight Jenkins in the New York Post

Blegen and Pavarotti in Met :'Elisir'

In last night's "L'Elisir d'Amore" the Metropolitan Opera pulled off the equivalent of a grand slam home run: a performance that must have delighted the tired businessman, satisfied the opera buff and absolutely satiated the voice lover. And all this wonder came from the musical and dramatic ability of the two leads: Judith Blegen and Luciano Pavarotti.

Gaetano Donizetti's "L'Elisir," though one of the most popular of Italian comic operas, does not play itself. To be successful, the principals must constantly work to make the audience see that these are real people caught in a comic situation.

Brilliantly crafted by Felice Romani, the librettist of "Norma," "L'Elisir's" book contains the classic tear through a smile: several moments when all the buffoonery is ripped away and the audience sees that Nemorino really loves Adina, and she returns his love.

Miss Blegen and Mr. Pavarotti never ceased to create their characters. Though
they sang superlatively, their greatest triumph lay in their complete believability.

Pavarotti, now tipping the scales at around 300, moves on stage with the lightness of a man a quarter of his size, and his marvelously expressive face constantly emotes. Nemorino's frustrations, his joy and his ultimate victory passed as a motion picture on the. tenor's countenance.

And what do you say about Miss Blegen except that she is just about the prettiest girl to appear on the Met stage, ever. She also manages to be a coquette without ever once being overcute or too coy. The face, the figure, the attractiveness, how lucky is opera not to have lost her to Broadway!

Authority, Finesse

Vocally, Pavarotti proved himself again the emperor of lyric tenors. Style, finesse, musical taste and a faultless vocal instrument all coalesced in his Nemorino. Some roles fit even a great voice better than others, and from first to last Nemorino is his property. In "Una furtiva lagrima" the sheen of his voice seemed to be encircled in a column of air, and his concluding high C in the "Venti Scudi" duet sang with ease.

Miss Blegen, whose tone is bright where a more Italianate soprano might be mellow, sang with such authority and finesse that she silenced any possible caviling. Her "Prendi per me sei libero" in the last scene, with its descending two-octave run from a high C, glistened as does dew on summer grass.

Mario Sereni contributed his familiar Belcore, one of the baritone's best roles at the Met, and Ezio Flagello offered up his Dulcamara. Though he sings more of the role than some others who perform it, he has little humor in his voice or presence. It is a solid performance, but lacks the element that makes the old quack really lovable.

The greatest tributes to the brilliance of Miss Blegen, who learned her role in Italian in about 10 days, and Pavarotti were that they overcame the heavyhanded, rather Germanic but solid performance by Max Rudolf. A distinguished maestro with many great performances at the Met in the early Bing years, Rudolf was never known for his Donizetti.

And in almost every way, he seemed to try to knock the bubbles out of the singer's champagne. With this cast he couldn't, and there were no unhappy patrons visible.

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