[Met Performance] CID:274810
Fidelio {168} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/14/1983.

(Debut: Klaus Tennstedt)

Metropolitan Opera House
December 14, 1983


Leonore.................Eva Marton
Florestan...............Edward Sooter
Don Pizarro.............Franz Mazura
Rocco...................Matti Salminen
Marzelline..............Roberta Peters
Jaquino.................Michael Best
Don Fernando............Aage Haugland
First Prisoner..........Anthony Laciura
Second Prisoner.........James Courtney

Conductor...............Klaus Tennstedt [Debut]

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

Fidelio received seven performances this season.

Revival gift of the Panwy Foundation

Review of Donal Henahan in The New York Times

The Metropolitan Opera is not famous nowadays for the quality of the conductors it attracts, but last night could stand as an exception to that statement. Even before Klaus Tennstedt lifted his baton to make his American opera debut as the leader of the season's first "Fidelio," he was given a long, fervent ovation. The cheering was repeated at every subsequent opportunity, perhaps as an expression of the audience's gratitude at finding one of the world's foremost conductors in the Metropolitan's pit, even if as a passing guest. Mr. Tennstedt responded by leading a high-tension performance of "Fidello" that often stretched the dramatic line near the breaking point, particularly in a passionate reading of the "Leonore" Overture No. 3, gratuitously played as usual before the final scene.

This was not a "Fidelio" especially rich in orchestral or vocal nuance. What Mr. Tennstedt seemed to be aiming for, on the whole, was heart-stopping melodrama and a musical line that never fell slack for a moment. That is certainly one valid way to approach this most melodramatic of operas. One could imagine Beethoven himself conducting it along the same lines.

The evening, which also offered Eva Marton in her first Metropolitan appearance, in the title role of Beethoven's opera , was somewhat uneven in quality despite the heat generated by Mr. Tennstedt's conducting. Jon Vickers, who was said to be ill was replaced as Florestan by Edward Sooter, a respectable tenor who filled in capably but projected little of the delirious agony that Mr. Vickers knows so well how to suggest in his indelible interpretation of this role. Miss Marton's bright thrusting
soprano was right in heft and penetration for Fidelio's big scene of vengeance and hope, "Abscheulicher/Komm Hoffnung," but the necessary contrast of outrage and gentle pathos did not come across vividly enough. Much of the time in Act I Miss Marton's range of expression was fairly narrow, averaging out to a kind of earnest bewilderment that is only part of what Fidelio should be all about, even when masquerading as a male.

However, Miss Marton is comparatively new to this part, so a certain tentative air was understandable. She seemed bland and uncertain in the quartet, "Mir ist so wunderbar," during which Roberta Peters's edgy Marzelline commandeered more than her share of the soprano line. It was not until Fidelio's confrontation with the villainous Don Pizarro in the dungeon scene of Act II that Miss Marton's Fidelio really took fire. From then on she let loose, vocally as well as dramatically, making an especially powerful moment of the duet with Florestan, "0 namenlose Freude." When she gets more deeply into the role, as she surely will in time, Miss Marton may be a Fidelio to put with the best.

Perhaps, in fact, all she needed on his occasion was a better frame to work in. The production which dates from 1970, always has struck me as ugly and needlessly constricting. The sage direction, perhaps as a result, is awkward and cliché-ridden, never more so than in a finale that resembles nothing so much as besotted fans rushing to tear down the goal posts after the big game. In spite of being so ineptly handled, the chorus sang gloriously here and elsewhere.

Matti Salminen's Rocco did not disappoint, either. His hulking physique made him entirety credible as the slow-witted would-be father of the bride and his dark bass voice in the "Gold" aria was surprisingly lithe and sonorous. He gave us a Rocco aptly rough in manner but not coarse of voice, which is striking an interesting balance. Franz Mazura's Pizarro lacked something in vocal excitement, particularly in his aria, "Oh Wonne," but he managed to be suitably hateful on the whole. Aage Haugland's heavy bass voice did not quite suit the part of Don Fernando, which has a lyrical component to it that be did not command. Michael Best's pallid Jacquino all but faded into the scenery.

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