[Met Performance] CID:244200
Le Nozze di Figaro {255} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/9/1976.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 9, 1976


LE NOZZE DI FIGARO {255}

Figaro..................Stafford Dean
Susanna.................Benita Valente
Count Almaviva..........Thomas Stewart
Countess Almaviva.......Kiri Te Kanawa
Cherubino...............Rosalind Elias
Dr. Bartolo.............Andrew Foldi
Marcellina..............Jean Kraft
Don Basilio.............Andrea Velis
Antonio.................Richard Best
Barbarina...............Betsy Norden
Don Curzio..............Robert Schmorr
Peasant.................Linda Mays
Peasant.................Dorothy Shawn

Conductor...............Steuart Bedford

Review of Bill Zakariasen in the Daily News

Can't get good help these days

"The Marriage of Whom?"

Well, I guess Figaro does marry Susanna at the end of Act III in Mozart's operatic gem, but at the Metropolitan's performance of it Monday, this conjugal event was upstaged by the vocalism and actions of their employers Count and Countess Almaviva.

The best news about Monday's performance (the second in the new Gunther Rennert production's largely new second cast) was the radiant Countess of Kiri Te Kanawa. I confess to have fallen in love with this beautiful woman, and her even more beautiful singing three years ago when she made her American debut at the San Francisco Opera. She sings it even better now, with a voice which has grown and bloomed to a natural, healthy potency.

It was apparent from her opening phrases in the cruelly-exposed "Porgi Amor" that she was in full command of the music, the words and herself. This was perfect singing which reached its hoped-for climax in a third act "Dove Sono," which harkened back to the prime years of Rethberg, Steber, and Schwarzkopf.

She was no less expert in recitatives and ensembles, and if she didn't relish the sometimes raunchy humor of Rennert's staging as much as her predecessor, she was at all times a sympathetic, positive presence.

Another positive singer was Thomas Stewart, whose Count commands the stage like few others. One might be puzzled as to why his beard, after two acts of being dark brown, changes to gray for the last two, but this was the only blemish on his powerful, yet humorously likable interpretation. His voice likewise was in jovial estate.

Bass Stafford Dean (who debuted Friday) was a collegiate Figaro of little strength of voice or conception. The servant was of no threat whatsoever to his master a suicidal situation for the libretto. In his few well-vocalized passages he sounded somewhat like Donald Gramm, making one wonder why this fine American singer is not even on the Met roster this season let alone singing this role.

Benita Valente sang Susanna quite well, but her straight-laced deportment didn't do much for her role of for its relation to her colleagues. Rosalind Elias was a more than competent Cherubino, without providing much in the way of erotic adolescent ecstasy. In cast repeats, Andrew Foldi was a dry, rhythmically-wayward Bartolo, Jean Kraft and excellent Marcellina, and Andrea Velis (his usually-unsung last-act aria hasn't been cut yet) the familiarly delicious Basilio.

Conductor Steuart Bedford has begun pressing the tempos (and volume) a bit too much since his first performance this year, but his superbly imaginative continuo accompaniment in the recitatives remains a model of style.



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