[Met Performance] CID:146990

Un Ballo in Maschera
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 7, 1948

Review 1:

Review of Cecil Smith in Musical America

The fifth presentation of "Un Ballo in Maschera" illustrated the way in which repeated changes of cast can destroy the integration of a performance in the course of a Metropolitan season. When Verdi's Swedish-Bostonian opera was given on [first] night there were many gratifying marks of careful preparation. But since the first repetition it has never again been put before the public with the ensemble of singers who prepared it; and of course it has not been rehearsed again, for neither the budget nor the time schedule permits more than one rehearsal period for any opera.

There have been two Amelias, three Riccardos, two Ulricas, two Oscars, two Renatos, two Samuels and two conductors, appearing in a kaleidoscopic series of shifting casts. By the time the fifth performance came around Daniza Ilitsch found herself singing with an unfamiliar conductor, baritone, contralto and secondary soprano. Fritz Busch, who had taken over in January an orchestra, chorus and cast originally instructed by Giuseppe Antonicelli, found himself confronted by an entirely different set of six principals, for not one of the main singers had taken part in the only other performance he had conducted!

It should be obvious, therefore, that the particular performance in question did not enable anyone to be at his best, and should therefore, in all charity, be passed over without much specific comment. In spite of all hazards, however, Inge Manski made a brilliant success in her first appearance as Oscar - the most prominent role she has undertaken in her first year at the Metropolitan - singing with sparkling accuracy, confidently poised tone, and altogether extraordinary sensitiveness of phrasing. Francesco Valentino was none too commanding in his first Renato of the season. The Feb. 7 assortment also included, in addition to Miss Ilitsch (who sang the second half of the opera with great eloquence after an uncertain beginning), Richard Tucker, Cloe Elmo (returning after her six weeks' illness), Giacomo Vaghi, John Baker, Lorenzo Alvary, Leslie Chabay and Lodovico Oliviero.

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