[Met Performance] CID:268070
Fidelio {158} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/29/1982.

(Debuts: Leif Roar, Bernard Haitink

Metropolitan Opera House
March 29, 1982


Leonore.................Shirley Verrett
Florestan...............Edward Sooter
Don Pizarro.............Leif Roar [Debut]
Rocco...................John Macurdy
Marzelline..............Judith Blegen
Jaquino.................James Atherton
Don Fernando............James Morris
First Prisoner..........Charles Anthony
Second Prisoner.........Norman Andersson

Conductor...............Bernard Haitink [Debut]

Production..............Otto Schenk
Stage Director..........Bruce Donnell
Designer................Boris Aronson
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Fidelio received ten performances this season.

Review of Harriett Johnson in the New York Post

Haitnik delivers powerful 'Fidelio'

Beethoven's "Fidelio," a monumental battle cry of freedom, needs to be heard today more than ever. In his Metropolitan Opera debut the other night, Bernard Haitnik's interpretation left no doubt about his defiant, stirring plea for the composer's convictions. Haitink, music director and permanent conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in his native Amsterdam, is now, at 53-years-old, seasoned in opera and he brought to the great Beethoven score a forthright, dynamic conception that was sometimes driven. It was also sometimes overwhelmed by volume as in the beginning of Act I and sometimes on the dry side as in the interpolated Overture to "Leonore" No. 3 that by tradition is played during the scene change in Act II from dungeon to courtyard.

But overall the listener was aware that a superior maestro was putting his stamp on the music and there was much to praise in the solo ensembles and the work of the chorus which had been superbly prepared by the Met's chorus master David Stivender. When the prisoners are released in Act I from their dark prison for a short time to see the light in the courtyard, their singing the chorus in which they beg God to set them free was a highlight of the evening.

In the title role of the lady in 18th century Spain who disguises herself as a man in order to work in the jail where her husband, Florestan, is unjustly detained, Shirley Verrett as Leonore was far more impressive vocally in Act II than in Act I. But tall and slim, she wore her role of man very well. Judith Blegen, who was the original Marzelline in the production new in 1970 with its powerful Boris Aronson sets that plead for liberty along with the music, was again on stage to charm by her singing and acting. Her chalk-like pallid makeup, however, detracted form her interpretation.

John Macurdy as Rocco the sympathetic jailer was among the strongest assets on stage with his rich, beautiful voice and his excellent approach to the part. The biggest disappointment was Leif Roar in his Met debut as Don Pizarro, the despicable governor for the fortress. He looked mean enough, but neither in voice nor action did he move beneath the surface of the part.

Edward Sooter as Florestan, eventually rescued by his wife's single-tracked persistence, and courage, was first-rate, a prime asset. This tenor role is tough and Sooter triumphed by [starting] Act II with an aria which can be a killer, but which he made the occasion for vocal prowess and excitement. James Morris made an elegant figure as Don Fernando, minister of state, who arrives in time to honor Florestan and punish Don Pizarro. James Atherton as the young Jacquino, in love with Marzelline, was perfectly cast. And Charles Anthony as the First Prisoner was notable for his fine singing in a small part. The production is by Otto Schenk, costumes by Aronson.

It was disturbing to have people seated, between the first and second scenes of Act I when Haitnik takes no break but moves immediately on with the orchestra.

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