[Met Performance] CID:255530
Aida {857} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/9/1978.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 9, 1978


AIDA {857}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Gilda Cruz-Romo
Radamès.................Carlo Bergonzi
Amneris.................Mignon Dunn
Amonasro................Louis Quilico
Ramfis..................Jerome Hines
King....................John Cheek
Messenger...............Charles Anthony
Priestess...............Elizabeth Coss
Dance...................Diana Levy
Dance...................Naomi Marritt
Dance...................Ellen Rievman
Dance...................William Badolato
Dance...................Jack Hertzog
Dance...................Stanley Perryman

Conductor...............Giuseppe Patanè

Production..............John Dexter
Set designer............David Reppa
Costume designer........Peter J. Hall
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
Choreographer...........Louis Johnson

Aida received eighteen performances this season.

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Post

'Aida's' return to the Met not that triumphant

Every performance of "Aida" should be an event, particularly at the Metropolitan Opera where Verdi's grandest opera has such a great tradition.

Unfortunately, when the opera, returned the Met last night after a season's absence, there was very little special about the performance. None of the singers stood out, either good or bad, the conducting was only adequate and the production has not improved with age.

This is the John Dexter staging of "Aida" that bowed in 1975 and was supposed to represent the forces of tradition crushing the young lovers. The triumphal scene was switched to nighttime, and there was an attempt to contrast the fascistic Egyptians with the more loving, agrarian Ethiopians.

Dexter has said that he plans to keep working his productions, constantly finding a
better way to make his points. Though this season he seems to have opened up the Triumphal Scene which used to be so crowded, night and torches still fight the
daylight in the music.

He also seems to have encouraged the performers, or at least the Aida (Gilda Cruz-Romo) and the Amneris (Mignon Dunn) to emote forcefully. Both women gave vent to overly strong facial reactions and body movements, all possible in themselves but in this production somewhat at odds with their hierarchic costumes and regal positions.

With the changes noted neither the sets nor the staging really fit Verdi's music, and fussing about with them only emphasizes that the production is not a successful one.

Giuseppe Patane led an "Aida" of traditional tempos and fair ensemble. The work, however, needs more dynamism and overall scope from the pit than it received.

In the title role Miss Cruz-Romo sang solidly with the high notes on pitch and nicely placed. She does not, however, bring her acting into her singing. For instance, she seemed visibly moved in the duet with her father in Act III, but the pain and fear was not expressed vocally, either in the phrasing, the dynamics or the overall sound.

The most successful cast member was Miss Dunn as Ammeris, but the American mezzo soprano was not in her best voice. She tended to lunge for the high notes and to skimp the lower tones. Her reading was moving, however, and she exhibited real fire in the Judgment Scene.

It was over 20 years ago when Carlo Bergonzi first sang Radames with the Met, and few tenors have brought so much class to the role. Though last night he had pitch problems, particularly in the first two acts, the wonderful clarity of his voice and his immaculate phrasing made up for much.

It did seem in the Nile Scene, though, as if the weight of voice needed for Radames is moving away from him; even two years ago he brought more overall substance to this critical scene.

Louis Quilico contributed a coarse Amonasro while Jerome Hines, after more than 30 years with the company, is no longer able to sustain the tones of Ramfis



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