[Met Performance] CID:134490

La Forza del Destino
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, January 9, 1943

La Forza del Destino (47)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Zinka Milanov

Don Alvaro
Kurt Baum

Don Carlo
Lawrence Tibbett

Padre Guardiano
Ezio Pinza

Irra Petina

Fra Melitone
Salvatore Baccaloni

Marquis de Calatrava
Louis D'Angelo

Thelma Votipka

Lorenzo Alvary

Alessio De Paolis

John Gurney

Nina Youskevitch

Alexis Dolinoff

Michael Arshansky

Bruno Walter

Herbert Graf

Set Designer
Ernest M. Gros

Set Designer
James Fox

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Witold Gordon

Laurent Novikoff

La Forza del Destino received seven performances this season.
Gros designed the sets for the Church of the Madonna, the encampment and the Cloister of the Madonna; the other sets were created by scenic artist J. Fox; J. Novak painted a vista of classical ruins inserted as a backdrop for the encampment scene.

Review 1:

Review of Jerome D, Bohn in the New York Herald Tribune

Walter Leads 'Forza Del Destino' With Tibbett, Baum, Milanov

Verdi Opera Given a Brilliant Performance at the Metropolitan in Franz Werfel Edition; Baccaloni, Pinza and Petina in Cast

"La Forza del Destino" is a great opera despite the obvious weakness of its libretto. These shortcomings are, however, far less damaging to its course of action than are those of the "Trovatore" text, and Saturday night the dramatic cogency of the work was enhanced by following Franz Werfel's version of the opera prepared for German opera houses whereby the duet between Don Carlos and Don Alvaro is placed at the close of the first scene of the third act and the audience is permitted to see the duel ensuing behind the rocks at the [beginning] of the final scene. Thus, while one still does not see Leonora stabbed and Don Carlos die, it is easier for the observer to visualize in his imagination these tragic events.

The performance was a stirring one and a good part of its effectiveness must be attributed to the superb conducting of Mr. Walter. For some reason, not easily explained from either the musical or dramatic aspects, the Overture was played following the prologue. Although structurally regarded weak in the joints, the Overture was set forth with an incandescent intensity which swept everything before it. It was impossible to resist its tremendous emotional impact. Throughout the presentation, Mr. Walter's interpretation neglected no facet of the composer's score. Its shifting episodes, largely gloomy ones to be sure, were illuminated by his unerring, forceful and sensitive direction. The final pages of the score emerged with ethereal, luminous beauty.

Mme. Milanov Sings Well

Much of the singing, too, tarried on high altitudes. I have never heard Mme. Milanov sing so well, with fewer lapses from vocal grace, during an entire opera. Her work was by no means flawless. She reverted to her manner of spreading her tones whenever she had to sing fast, and this was noted in portions of "Madre, pietosa Vergine," which began better than it ended. This was also the case in the following ensemble, "Vergine degli Angeli." But the soprano atoned for these faults by voicing the entire closing scene of the opera ravishingly. Her delivery of "Pace, pace, mio Dio" was tonally transparent and vibrantly warm and in the closing trio, one of the finest things in all of Verdi, her voice floated forth with those exquisite pianissimi which only Mme. Milanov at her best commands. Her portrayal, dramatically considered was, of course, not all it might have been. The Yugoslavian soprano is no Duse. But she was visually convincing and wisely refrained from tearing the tumultuous passions of the role to tatters.

The vocal surprise of the evening was Mr. Baum. Although this tenor had made a favorable impression when he made his debut here in November, 1941, as the Singer in Strauss's "Rosenkavalier," no further opportunity had been given to judge his accomplishments. Mr. Baum has a full, rich voice of barytonal texture in the lower and middle ranges, yet soaring easily to persuasively glowing top tones. He did not achieve consistent freedom of production last night. Nervousness, no doubt, in the prologue caused him to constrict his throat at times and there were other moments later on when perfection of projection eluded him. But his second-act aria, "O tu che in seno agli' Angeli," revealed the remarkable beauty of his voice felicitously. Mr. Baum is a singer, not a shouter. He is master of a carefully equalized scale and a true legato and, what is still rarer among present-day tenors, he can sing softly as well as fortissimo, and his dynamic gamut is nicely variegated. He sang with unfailing expressiveness and good taste. As an actor, too, Mr. Baum proved satisfying. He was restrained in action, never resorted to exaggerations of gesture and movement and suggested Don Alvaro's conflicting emotions appositely. His success with the audience was unquestionable, the delivery of his aria being received by long applause and shouts of approval.

Tibbett the Don Alvaro

Mr. Tibbett did relatively good work as Don Alvaro. A few of the highest tones were attained with apparent effort but for the most part he surmounted the arduous difficulties of his music safely. To say that he brought the essential tonal resonance thereto would be stretching the truth considerably. His voice sounded cavernous and dry throughout the performance, wanting in resiliency and variegation of color. Both in "Solenne quest' ora" and "Invamo Alvaro ti celasti al mondo," his efforts to be heard at all costs lessened the effectiveness of the more sensitive and more sensuous singing of Mr. Baum. Dramatically viewed, Mr. Tibbett's delineation was on the stagey side.

Poised nobility characterized both the singing and acting of Mr. Pinza as the Abbot and, at the opposite pole, Mr. Baccaloni's envisagement of the Falstaffian Father Melitone was equally impressive as a comic embodiment. Miss Petina brought much of the needed temperament to her disclosure of Preziosilla's music, although some of it lies too high for her, and the remaining, less weighty roles were in good hands. Mr. Graf's stage direction contributed not a little to the success of the production and the settings, although not new, are among the most atmospherically suggestive that the Metropolitan owns.

Review 2:

Review of Oscar Thompson in the New York Sun

A work-a-day revival of "La Forza del Destino" was warmly welcomed at the Metropolitan on Saturday night. Though its blemishes were many, there were some touches of distinction in the performance. Chief among those was Bruno Walter's management of the orchestra. Also to be praised was Zinka Milanov's smooth singing of the favorite "Pace, pace, mio Dio!" in the final scene, though elsewhere she was as sharp as much as she was on pitch. Kurt Baum was highly successful with his audience in the role of Don Alvaro, his first major part with the company. There was a time when Lawrence Tibbett would have outshone Mr. Baum in the tenor-baritone duets. But there was little freedom and much effort in his part of "Solenne in quest' ora" and "La miniaccie i fieri accenti." For constantly admirable sonorities Ezio Pinza surpassed all his associates in his singing of the grateful music of the Abbot.

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