[Met Performance] CID:247020
Il Trovatore {425} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/11/1976.

(Opening Night {92}
Anthony A. Bliss, General Manager

Debut: Gianandrea Gavazzeni

Metropolitan Opera House
October 11, 1976
Opening Night

Anthony A. Bliss, Executive Director

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Luciano Pavarotti
Leonora.................Renata Scotto
Count Di Luna...........Matteo Manuguerra
Azucena.................Shirley Verrett
Ferrando................James Morris
Ines....................Cynthia Munzer
Ruiz....................Charles Anthony
Messenger...............Lou Marcella
Gypsy...................Edward Ghazal

Conductor...............Gianandrea Gavazzeni [Debut]

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

Il Trovatore received eighteen performances this season.

Review of William Bender in Time Magazine

Heavyweight Opening

Manrico, the tenor troubadour in "II Trovatore," may be the biggest patsy among all the operatic heroes created by Giuseppe Verdi. Just stir up a little trouble and Manrico will dash off to get involved - usually with disastrous results. At the end of Act I he rushes forth to outduel the evil Count di Luna, but he spares the count's life and later gets stabbed for his trouble: At the end of Act III he races to rescue his adoptive mother Azucena; both end up in prison.

The woman in Manrico's life, Leonora, is not much help. In Act IV she tries to secure his freedom by giving herself to the count, but bungles the job by dying before Manrico is released, and Manrico goes to the executioner. Why then would anybody want to play poor Manrico? Because his music has the kind of nobility, beauty and stentorian power to make the ear and heart ignore the scornful urgings of the eye and mind.

It was in the role of Manrico that Italian Tenor Luciano Pavarotti presided over the opening of the Metropolitan Opera's 92nd season in New York last week. Weighing in at well over 300 lbs., his swordsmanship lightheartedly heavyhanded, Pavarotti did little visually to make a believable character of Manrico. Vocally it was another matter. This was the kind of elegant, radiant singing that has made Pavarotti the most exciting lyric tenor in all opera. For Pavarotti and opera fans alike, Manrico was a major turning point in a notable career. It was the first time at the Met that Pavarotti had ventured beyond light lyric roles into the deeper waters of dramatic Verdi. It is a step wise lyric tenors do not take until they are 40 or so (Pavarotti is 41), for fear of
damaging the vocal cords. At that age, the voice usually begins to darken and toughen. Pavarotti's voice is still lighter than one is used to in this music, but he made
the adjustment skillfully and convincingly.

Pavarotti had some distinguished company. In the pit was Gianandrea Gavazzeni, 67, whose 50 years at Milan's La Scala include associations with Toscanini, Mascagni and Giordano. Gavazzeni led a performance that was full of controlled excitement; at the same time he was consistently thoughtful of his singers. His support of Veteran Soprano Renata Scotto (Leonora), who sang the precarious "D'amor sull' ali rosee" in Act IV with extreme caution, was a memorable lesson in podium gallantry.

The Azucena was Shirley Verrett, who, like Pavarotti, is at a career turning point. A Met regular for eight years, she is basically a mezzo with an unusually high, extended range. Lately, she has been trying to move into the repertory of the dramatic soprano. The results have been only partially successful largely because ,in moving higher, her voice takes on an icy whiteness of tone. Returning to the mezzo range of Azucena, however, Verrett sang with overwhelming fire and urgency. One would hate to see a woman as lovely as Verrett consigned forever to play a hag like Azucena, but hers is one of the memorable interpretations of the role, both visually and vocally.

Singers such as Pavarotti and Verrett are reason enough, or should be, for the Met to open its doors. Pavarotti, especially. Unlike most of today's sober-minded opera singers, who seem to feel they are in personal charge of the Holy Grail, Pavarotti matches his uninhibited vocal glee onstage with a great gusto for life offstage. No sooner had the opening performance of Trovatore concluded than he was putting, on another show in his dressing room, grandly playing host to all visitors, especially the ladies. Eying one female autograph seeker with measured admiration becoming a married man with three children, he purred: "Ah. You and I should be secret lovers." Then he was off to an Italian restaurant to celebrate his 41st birthday. Though he has recently dieted off 25 lbs. and is aiming for another 75, Pavarotti will not tell anyone exactly what he weighs. "I am-how you say?-ashamed." he explains. Thus at his party he skimped on the pasta and wine he loves so dearly. He made up for it by kissing every woman in the room.

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