[Met Concert/Gala] CID:274260
Centennial Gala I. Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 10/22/1983., Broadcast / Telecast
(100th Anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera
Broadcast / Telecast)
Metropolitan Opera House
October 22, 1983 Matinee, Broadcast / Telecast
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera
CENTENNIAL GALA I
Scenery for Les Mamelles de Tiresias
designed by David Hockney
Anthony A. Bliss
The Bartered Bride: Overture
Turandot: In questa reggia
Die Walküre: Act I Duet
Jess Thomas [Last appearance]
Le Nozze di Figaro: Dove sono
Kiri Te Kanawa
Otello: Dio mi potevi
Porgy and Bess: Bess you is my woman now
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: La calunnia
Lucia di Lammermoor: Sextet
Loretta Di Franco
Man of La Mancha: Medley
Semiramide: Bel raggio lusinghier
Scenery for Arabella Act II
designed by Günther Schneider-Siemssen
Iris: Hymn of the Sun
Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Der Rosenkavalier: Presentation of the Rose
Frederica von Stade
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny: When the sky grows brighter
Die Zauberflöte: Papagena-Papageno Duet
Roméo et Juliette: Nuit d'hyménée
L'Elisir d'Amore: Una furtiva lagrima
Ernani: Ernani, involami
Der Rosenkavalier: Final Trio
Frederica von Stade
Otello: Love Duet
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
TV Director.............Kirk Browning
Gala coordinated by Charles Riecker
Review of Irving Kolodin in Newsday:
Even before dawn broke on the day of the Metropolitan Opera centennial, a fair range of tomorrows was taking shape.
Late on Oct. 21, the day before the centennial, the Met and Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the Met's musicians, agreed on a new contract.
Besides assuring that there wouldn't be a confrontation between general manager Anthony A. Bliss and the 94-member orchestra, the three-year contract - approved nine months before the current pact expires - ensured continuity of services into 1987 for Bliss' as-yet-unnamed successor.
The agreement was reason for rejoicing even before last Saturday afternoon's phase of the two-part gala began with a rousing performance of Bedrich Smetana's "Bartered Bride" overture under the direction of James Levine.
The gala rose to an even higher pitch of possibilities about two hours later when David Stivender took the podium. Stivender, a good musician who has demonstrated abilities as a chorus master since 1977, led with an excerpt from Pietro Mascagni's "Iris." This seldom-heard opera, from the man who became famous with "Cavalleria Rusticana" eight years before, had its premiere in Rome in 1898 and its first performance in America four years later. It had not been performed at the Met since 1914.
The excerpt, entitled "Prelude and Hymn to the Sun," began with a fanciful evocation of orchestral sound that was well realized by Stivender. Then, when the stage lights came up, showing Gunther Schneider-Siemseen's beautiful setting for the second act of Richard Strauss' "Arabella," attention shifted from the pit to the front of the stage.
With the superbly sonorous "Hymn," sung with tingling impact by the mixed voices, Stivender elevated the post-*Cavalleria" Mascagni to a new order of esteem and roused cheers from the crowded theater's audience.
Behind the festivities, too, was the Met's goal of raising a $100-million endowment fund, an effort that is moving along well. One has to accept the intercession of television, under the sponsorship of Texaco, as a means to accrue an income indispensable to the Met's future.
So the centennial was televised, unlike some past landmark performances. The gala of April 16, 1966, which ended the Met's occupancy of its original home at 39th Street and Broadway, wasn't even broadcast. The follow-up on April 22, 1972, which ended the Bing regime at Lincoln Center, was recorded, but not telecast.
Since then, the concept of "Live at the Met" has transformed an electronic possibility into a fundraising tool: The bigger the audience, the higher the take.
Prior Met galas have focused on one evening's activities, aiming for the best of the best in a few hours of performance. This time it was a double display, with high prices for each session. As everybody knows, there aren't enough top singers to be displayed over 8-1/2 hours.
The afternoon began well, with the Hungarian-born rising star Eva Marton singing "In questa reggia" from Puccini's towering score, suggesting that when a revival of "Turandot" is in order, she is the one to do it.
But the height of quality immediately was deflated, musically, with a mockingly inadequate version of the final duet from the first act of Wagner's "Die Walkure," with Jessye Norman as a weak-sounding Sieglinde and Jess Thomas, a shadow of the capable tenor he was in 1972, as Siegmund.
Why should he venture such a comparison? Don't excuse it as the ego-appeal of being seen "live from the Met."
To be sure, the tide rose with a wonderfully managed "Bel raggio lusinghier," from Rossini's "Semiramide," by Dame Joan Sutherland, conducted by her husband, Richard Bonynge, a graciously frenchified "Habanera" from Bizet's "Carmen," by Regine Crespin, and the afternoon's concluding Verdian duet from Act I of "Otello," with the vibrant Mirelli Freni and that embodiment of tonal tenorism, Placido Domingo.
[Review continued with second half of gala.]