[Met Concert/Gala] CID:287110
Pension Fund Benefit
Gala Performance. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/11/1987., Broadcast / Telecast

(Broadcast / Telecast
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 11, 1987 Broadcast / Telecast
Pension Fund Benefit


GALA PERFORMANCE

Lucia di Lammermoor: Act I, Scene 2

Lucia...................Joan Sutherland
Edgardo.................Luciano Pavarotti
Alisa...................Ariel Bybee


Lucia di Lammermoor: Act III, Scene 3

Edgardo.................Luciano Pavarotti
Raimondo................Julien Robbins

Conductor...............Richard Bonynge

Director................David Kneuss
Staged by...............Bruce Donnell
Designer................Attilio Colonnello
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
TV Director.............Kirk Browning


Rigoletto: Act III

Rigoletto...............Leo Nucci
Gilda...................Joan Sutherland
Duke of Mantua..........Luciano Pavarotti
Maddalena...............Isola Jones
Sparafucile.............Ferruccio Furlanetto

Conductor...............Richard Bonynge

Stage Director..........David Sell
Designer................Tanya Moiseiwitsch
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
TV Director.............Kirk Browning


La Traviata: Act III

Violetta................Joan Sutherland
Alfredo.................Luciano Pavarotti
Germont.................Leo Nucci
Dr. Grenvil.............James Courtney
Annina..................Hillary Johnsson

Conductor...............Richard Bonynge

Production..............Colin Graham
Staged Director.........David Kneuss
Designer................Tanya Moiseiwitsch
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
TV Director.............Kirk Browning

Telecast: Live From The Met

Available for streaming at Met Opera on Demand

Gala performance a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis


Review of Will Crutchfield n The New York Times:

Gala performances of scenes stitched together from several operas have a long and honorable place in operatic history. They serve especially to celebrate great singers in the autumn of their careers. Dame Nellie Melba, for instance, bade her farewells in the 1920's in a program of acts from "Romeo et Juliette," "Bohème" and "Otello." Her great compatriot and successor, Dame Joan Sutherland, sang yesterday evening at the Metropolitan Opera in excerpts from three of her best roles: Lucia di Lammermoor, Gilda in "Rigoletto" and Violtetta in "La Traviata."

She was accompanied by a tenor whose career she forwarded some 20 years ago by taking him home to Australia with her touring company (as Melba did for John McCormack), Luciano Pavarotti.

One thought of Melba at the Met yesterday whenever the balance tilted from expertise brilliantly sustained toward the inevitable difficulties of a voice that has worked hard in opera for just under 40 years. Melba's Covent Garden farewell was recorded for posterity; so was yesterday's gala. Difficulties and all, it is clear in both cases what all the fuss was about. And though one will have to await the broadcast for cool evaluation, the impression on the spot is that Miss Sutherland is giving performances still more musical, more expert and more memorable than those of her memorable predecessor.

There were some effortful lines and one high D that didn't quite work out, but the audience was not only applauding its memories when it went wild for Miss Sutherland yesterday. There ware still phrases here and there, especially in her "Lucia" scene, that she sang better than anyone else in the business could. The clarity of her ornamental figures, certain limpid phrases of the dying Gilda, the verve of some upward leaps, a couple of well-trilled trills -no matter what the difficulties, something was always just around the corner to remind all present of the accomplishment on which this stellar career was built. The beauty and the sheer resonance of her tone, which carries perfectly even at its faintest, are still remarkable.

And though Miss Sutherland is neither inspired nor especially skillful as an actress, she is always fully committed to the act of performing and to the energy of delivering her role.

All this went to renew the realization that - as a longtime operagoer of my acquaintance put it recently -a great singer past her prime is always better than a singer who had no prime. There is no way around reporting that Miss Sutherland did not sound as though she had years and years of singing yet ahead, but she gave ample demonstration of what was special about the years that lie behind.

Mr. Pavarotti spent much of the evening confronting the difficulties that await a prodigal lyric tenor when he turns back from the tempting dramatic roles to his natural territory. Many things that ought to have been easy for him seemed difficult, Even transposed down, he can no longer manage with security the rising lines at the end of "Lucia." Almost every phrase that called for lyricism or poise got something else.

The tenor did best what he has always done best: spirited rhythmic passages that benefit from his crisp diction, emphatic accentuation and bright vowels. On this occasion that meant Edgardo's enumeration of the Lammermoors' misdeeds, "La donna e mobile" (except when he, in his turn, went for a high note that didn't work out) and Alfredo's portion of "Gran Dio, morir si giovane" in "Traviata." And the [launching] solo of the "Rigoletto" quartet, which is not easy, was fairly well done. But what is one to say of the rushed, clipped, insensitive mess he made of Edgardo's big aria, "Fra poco a me ricovero"? Only that it is beautiful music, and deserves far better.

Hillary Johnsson, James Courtney, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Julien Robbins did good supporting work in various roles; Ariel Bybee and Isola Jones, in theirs, gave the impression that their assignment was to sing louder than Miss Sutherland no matter how much effort that required, and Leo Nucci portrayed Rigoletto with so much blustery shouting that it was hard to know what note he was singing much of the time. (I had to depart before Miss Suthurland's second demise, and so missed Mr. Nucci's brief bedside contribution to the "Traviata " scene.)



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