[Met Performance] CID:318000
Il Tabarro {64}
Pagliacci {644}
Metropolitan Opera House: 09/26/1994., Telecast

(Opening Night {110}
Joseph Volpe, General Manager
Telecast
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
September 26, 1994 Telecast
Opening Night {110}

Joseph Volpe, General Manager


IL TABARRO {64}
Puccini-Adami

Giorgetta...............Teresa Stratas
Luigi...................Plácido Domingo
Michele.................Juan Pons
Frugola.................Florence Quivar
Talpa...................Federico Daviŕ
Tinca...................Charles Anthony
Song Seller.............Philip Creech
Lover...................Yvonne Gonzales Redman
Lover...................Tony Stevenson

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Fabrizio Melano
Designer................David Reppa
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
TV Director.............Brian Large

Il Tabarro received two performances this season.


PAGLIACCI {644}
Leoncavallo--Leoncavallo

Nedda...................Teresa Stratas
Canio...................Luciano Pavarotti
Tonio...................Juan Pons
Silvio..................Dwayne Croft
Beppe...................Kenn Chester
Villager................Glenn Bater
Villager................John Hanriot

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Franco Zeffirelli
Stage Director..........Fabrizio Melano
Designer................Franco Zeffirelli
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
TV Director.............Brian Large

Pagliacci received fifteen performances this season.

Pagliacci revival a gift of the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund for Lincoln Center
Performance a gift of The William T. Morris Foundation

Available for streaming at Met Opera on Demand

Review of Leighton Kerner in the Village Voice:

Stratas Plus Tenors

Maybe it's time for feminists to picket the Met. The big publicity noise about the September 26 opening night focused on the third joint appearance at this theater in recent years of Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, the two most famous tenors working regularly today and two of the five best now alive. But not a word was said, either from the stage or in the voluminous program book, about the new season's marking the 35th anniversary of Teresa Stratas's Met debut. Yes, Pavarotti was singing Canio in a fully staged Leoncavallo "Pagliacci" for the first time in his career, having recorded the opera and sung it in a concert performance. And Domingo was returning to one of his less conspicuous roles, Luigi in Puccini's Il Tabarro. But Stratas, for the only time this season, sang the adulterous wife in both operas, a notable feat, anniversary or no anniversary. And just to encroach further on the Tenor Event, baritone Juan Pons sang the heavy in the two sex-and-violence items, and James Levine conducted them superbly.

The fact that Stratas's lyric soprano was stretched thin during some of the evening was beside the should-have-been-celebratory point. (Pons also hit a rough patch in the "Pagliacci" prologue, especially at the unwritten climactic high note.) Stratas's vocal problems - during the first half of both operas - as usual didn't negate the force of her performances. She made fully evident the emotional victim in Puccini's Giorgetta, the Seine bargemaster's wife fallen out of love only partly because their baby died, more because of age difference As Leoncavallo's Nedda, she almost danced (with winglike arms) her aria's apostrophe to the freedom of birds and fired up lots of temper against the lustful, repulsive Tonio (Pons). And there was a terrific, gaping-mouthed scream when Canio's knife caught up with her.

Not that the superstar tenors loafed. Puccini's librettist, Giuseppe Adami, described Luigi as age 25, and Domingo, a little more than double that, didn't try to imitate youth, but filled the bill in every other way. The intensity of Luigi's leftist rebellion and of his obsession with Giorgetta was always in his ringing voice and his reined-in demeanor. And he managed not to get laughs as Pons's strangulation victim, particularly in view of all the soprano throats Domingo has abused in "Otello."

Pavarotti's Canio, as restaged for this occasion by Fabrizio Melano, was fresh and memorable. Not trying to emulate two generations of predecessors in the role, and forsaking some fine ideas from Franco Zeffirelli's original 1970 production, he delivered a well-thought-out new take. When Tonio gave him that knife, Pavarotti didn't seem to know what it was - this strange object from nowhere. "Vesti la giubba" ended with Pavarotti not wandering up a deserted hill (Zeffirelli's fine staging) but staying on the makeup stool and staring into space. Hell was where he was; he didn't have to go looking for it. And he sang the grueling part without straining his still-lyric tenor. His audience-warming stuff before marital crisis set in may have been a bit laid back, but he made "Vesti la giubba" rise to a steadily burning flame of melody without holding onto "Ridi, Pagliaccio" until 3 am.

The ensemble for both operas was exemplary, special salutes owing to Pons's bitter Michele, Florence Quivar's lively Frugola, Charles Anthony's beaten-down Tinca, and Yvonne Gonzales's golden-voiced young lover in Il tabarro, and Dwayne Croft's urgently sung Silvio, Kenn Chester's lyric Beppe, and the alert, well-tuned chorus in "Pagliacci." But it was Levine's management of the orchestra that did as much as anything else to make the evening an event. When did you ever before hear Puccini's river music, with its spooky foghorns and jolting automobile hooters, surge so menacingly? When did the act two prelude in "Pagliacci" (an intermezzo for a one-act production, as in most theaters nowadays) progress so exquisitely from desolation to sublimation? You can see and hear all this on the December 28 PBS/WQXR simulcast, and forget the popcorn.



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