[Met Performance] CID:138630

La Gioconda
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, January 25, 1945

Debut : Richard Tucker, Ann Lee

La Gioconda (143)
Amilcare Ponchielli | Arrigo Boito
La Gioconda
Stella Roman

Richard Tucker [Debut]

Bruna Castagna

Richard Bonelli

Nicola Moscona

La Cieca
Margaret Harshaw

John Gurney

Lodovico Oliviero

William Hargrave

John Baker

Osie Hawkins

Richard Manning

Ann Lee [Debut]

Marina Svetlova

Leon Varkas

Alexis Dolinoff

Emil Cooper

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Antonio Rovescalli

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Mathilde Castel-Bert

Laurent Novikoff

La Gioconda received six performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Noel Straus in The New York Times


Last Heard in the 1939-40 Season, Ponchielli Opera Introduces Tucker Here

After an absence from the repertoire since the season of '39-'40, Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" was revived last night at the Metropolitan Opera House. The work was conducted by Emil Cooper for the first time here. Heading the cast were Stella Roman, who had not assumed the title role previously in this city, and Richard Tucker, who made his debut with the company as Enzo.

Despite the absurdities of its violently melodramatic plot, there is decided dramatic forcefulness in this opera when it is sung by voices capable of meeting its exactions. At this latest performance only Richard Bonelli as Barnaba and Nicola Moscona as Alvise possessed adequate vocal power for the parts assigned them. All of the other principals struggled with music demanding a wealth of tone that was not forthcoming, with the result that those who were hearing the work for the first time could obtain little conception of the real possibilities of the score.

"Ah, Pescator" Pleases

In fact, during the entire first two acts the sole number sung by any of the leading artists of the personnel that was completely up to requirements in all respects was the barcarolle, "Ah, Pescator," as delivered by Mr. Bonelli, though in general his portrayal of the villainous spy of the Inquisition was neither sharply defined nor sufficiently sinister.

Special interest naturally centered in the company's new tenor, Mr. Tucker, who had the misfortune to make his initial appearance in a formidable role too heavy for his essentially lyric type of voice. Nevertheless, he made a definitely favorable impression and was enthusiastically received by the large audience. Although inexperienced in opera, he sang Enzo's music with poise and assurance. His tones were steady and of pleasing quality, boasting special richness and resonance above the staff, where the sounds produced were more "forward" than in the thinner lower half of the scale. He sang with warmth and expressiveness and his acting was natural and easy. Besides these virtues he had an agreeable stage presence. But he must be heard in a part more congenial to him before final judgment can be made of his capabilities.

Miss Roman's Part

Miss Roman was beyond her depths in the name part, which asks for a far more brilliant and dramatic type of voice. Her work was extremely uneven. Some of the top tones were well produced, but too often they were spread and off-pitch, while much of her singing in the lower reaches of the scale was frequently too light to be audible.

Bruna Castagna was formerly far more impressive as Laura than at present, her voice having acquired lack of proper support with her recent loss of weight, and though Margaret Harshaw brought feeling to her impersonation of La Cieca, she was vocally undistinguished in the role.

The chorus made the most of its many opportunities and the orchestra played well, but the entire performance was handicapped by the conducting of Mr. Cooper, who dragged tempi consistently and provided a support having a dearth of carefully articulated melodic outline.

Photograph by The New York Times Studio of Richard Tucker as Enzo in La Gioconda:

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