[Met Performance] CID:263090
Cavalleria Rusticana {546}
Pagliacci {586}
Metropolitan Opera House: 12/22/1980.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 22, 1980


CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA {546}

Santuzza................Grace Bumbry
Turiddu.................Carlo Bini
Lola....................Isola Jones
Alfio...................Cornell MacNeil
Mamma Lucia.............Geraldine Decker

Conductor...............David Stivender


PAGLIACCI {586}

Nedda...................Patricia Craig
Canio...................Richard Cassilly
Tonio...................Cornell MacNeil
Silvio..................Brian Schexnayder
Beppe...................Philip Creech
Villager................Richard Firmin
Villager................Edward Ghazal

Conductor...............David Stivender

Review of Lou Cevetillo in the Port Chester (N. Y.) Item

Met Opera's double bill twice flawed

The traditional double bill of "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "I Pagliacci" was heard once more at the Metropolitan Opera House Monday. "Cav and Pag," the first production of the standard repertory to reach the Met boards this season, received a sketchy performance throughout.

In the pit was David Stivender, the Met's chorus master. His direction was flaccid and without inspiration or concern for the veristic style of Mascagni and Leoncavallo. There were broad gestures to the orchestra, but little interpretive genius was transmitted from the end of Stivender's baton. Accents were lacking as well as concern for the nuances of the scores.

Grace Bumbry recreated her Santuzza with more fire and depth than in previous seasons. Her regard for the characterization brought new dimensions to the jilted Sicilian girl. Vocally, Bumbry was more at home in this role since it is neither soprano nor mezzo, a classification that suits Miss Bumbry better than most. Full bodied chest tones marched by a piercing top made much of the shrewish side of her peasant character.

Carlo Bini sang a rather throaty Turiddu. His voice is tightly produced causing some of the natural volume to be cut short and remain onstage, never passing the footlights. As far as the visual dramatics, Bini has a natural bent for this Southern Italian young buck. Bini's sauntering gestures were stylistically correct and moving to watch. Bini, a Southern Italian by birth, was one of the most believable Turiddus in recent years. Too bad his vocal technique could not match the excitement created by his physical presence onstage. Isola Jones looked so beautiful as Lola, that it was easy to understand Turiddu's preoccupation with her.

Cornell MacNeil doubled in the roles of Alfio in "Cavalleria" and Tonio in "I Pagliacci." MacNeil seems to have a new lease on vocal health this season. Gone was the wobble that plagued the great Verdian baritone recently. It appears that his trouble has stopped with the discontinuation of [releasing] his tones in the middle and upper registers. Now, MacNeil has returned his voice to its proper line, by covering the tones in the "passagio" and releasing only in the very top of his voice. In all ways MacNeil offered the best performance of the evening.

Also in "I Pagliacci," Richard Cassilly sang the tragic clown, Canio. His voice is less than attractive since it takes on a wooden, harshness that assaults the ears from the stage. His voice is used more for power than the sheer beauty of singing. It does not have the bleat of a McCracken, but the nasal sound and pushing technique are both there in Cassilly's production.

Dramatically, Cassilly created a less than sympathetic Canio. His approach was more Germanic and lost most of the Italian style of veristic tragedy. Patricia Craig sang a rather anemic Nedda, the unfaithful wife of Canio. Her characterization was stilted and lacked the zest and life of Nedda's character. Vocally, Miss Craig was inaudible too often for a soprano, who should be able to be heard in this lyric role. She was neither passionate nor impetuous. She too lacked the style of the piece.

A pleasant surprise was baritone Brian Shexnayder, who debuted this season as Silvio. This is a young, resonant voice that is far beyond the usual lyric type that commonly gets assigned the role of Silvio. With care and concern, the Met may have a new Verdi baritone someday. Shexnayder moved adequately well for his first season on that mammoth stage, and in time he should develop into a scene stealer.

Phillip Creech, as Beppe, musically and artistically did not give reason for his presence on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. He demonstrated little voice and little else.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).