[Met Performance] CID:130120

New Production

Il Trovatore
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, December 12, 1940

Debut : Ferruccio Calusio, Norina Greco, Mary Percy Schenck

Il Trovatore (207)
Giuseppe Verdi | Salvatore Cammarano
Jussi Björling

Norina Greco [Debut]

Count Di Luna
Frank Valentino

Bruna Castagna

Nicola Moscona

Maxine Stellman

Lodovico Oliviero

Arthur Kent

Ferruccio Calusio [Debut]

Herbert Graf

Set Designer
Harry Horner

Costume Designer
Mary Percy Schenck [Debut]

Il Trovatore received seven performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Oscar Thompson in the New York Sun


Calusio Conducts Verdi Revival at Debut

Last night's opera at the Metropolitan was still "Il Trovatore." Re-staged and re-studied, with a new conductor and some new singers, and with several restorations made of music and stage business formerly omitted, it successfully withstood the well-intentioned efforts made to improve it as a stage spectacle and went on asserting the power of its red-blooded melodies in the long-familiar way.

The new conductor, Ferruccio Calusio, merits consideration before the new trappings of the production. An Argentinian whose career in Italy and elsewhere to some extent parallels that of his compatriot, Ettore Panizza, he was not long in making clear that he is an operatic leader of authority as well as experience. Not in recent seasons have we heard as refined and precise an orchestra in "Il Trovatore." His treatment of the "Condotta ell'era" scene contained some striking illustrations of the use of the pianissimo. His tempi were almost universally faster than those to which Metropolitan audiences have been accustomed. In most instances, this accelerated pace was refreshing. But occasionally, as in Azucena's "Stride la vampa," he crowded the singer with a loss of both musical and dramatic impact.

Bruna Castagna, though she overshadowed her associates as the one really impressive vocal and stage personality of the cast, made nothing like her usual effect with this air because of the hurry of its delivery. Some of its most dramatic phrases fairly tinkled. All this was atoned for in her superb accomplishment of the "Condotta ell'era" scene almost immediately thereafter.

Changes in Cast and a Debut.

One of several changes from the cast originally announced brought Mme. Castagna to the part of the gypsy mother in the place of Kerstin Thorborg. Another popped Francesco Valentino into the role of the Count di Luna, which was to have been sung by Alexander Sved. Indispositions were given as the cause. Mr. Valentino, looking inches shorter than he did at his debut in Monday night's "Lucia" and wearing platform soles, gave a really beautiful account of "Il Balen." Much of the time the voice had more surface resonance than body.

Norina Greco's debut as Leonora, in substitution for the still absent Stella Roman, was an agreeable if scarcely a historic event. She sang her airs acceptably and there was no particular reason to lament her omission of a couple of high D-flats. The voice, already familiar to many listener's because of her appearances in popular opera at the Hippodrome, proved ample in body and texture for the Metropolitan, if a little hard at the top and not of a conspicuously winning quality. As Manrico, Jussi Björling was most satisfactory in smooth lyric singing, such as that he bestowed upon "Ah si, ben mio" and the "Ai nostri monti" duet. Nicola Moscona was a routine Ferrando. In small parts were Maxine Stellman, Lodovico Oliviero and Arthur Kent. Restorations included the duet between Manrico and Leonora which intervenes between "Ah si, ben mio" and "Di quella pira." Another was the chorus which comes as a finale to the scene in which these airs are sung.

As stage director, Herbert Graf contrived some effective groupings. The [first] scene in which Ferrando addresses the soldiers was particularly an improvement. But the action was handicapped by another of those orgies of steps that result from an effort to concentrate the action on raised platforms with an inner frame. The sets, credited to Harry Horner, hesitate between tradition and modernistic fantasy. When the next revival comes they never will be missed. The performance was cordially, but not frenetically, received.

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