[Met Performance] CID:155030

La Traviata
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, November 11, 1950

Debut : Alberto Erede, Margaret Roggero, Antony Tudor

La Traviata (330)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Dorothy Kirsten

Ferruccio Tagliavini

Frank Guarrera

Lucielle Browning

Leslie Chabay

Baron Douphol
Clifford Harvuot

Marquis D'Obigny
Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Grenvil
Osie Hawkins

Margaret Roggero [Debut]

Tilda Morse

Nana Gollner

Alberto Erede [Debut]

Désiré Defrère

Jonel Jorgulesco

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Antony Tudor [Debut]

Novak designed the set for Act II.
La Traviata received eighteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of James Hinton Jr. in Musical America

The first "La Traviata" of the season, on Nov. 11, marked the first venture by Rudolf Bing into the Augean stables of his inherited repertoire. The visit indicated only too clearly that the task may well be a long and noisome one.

It was not a really bad performance, by pre-Bing standards, but aside from Dorothy Kirsten's exceptionally good Violetta no major increment of it was worthy of the stage of a first-class opera house that charges a $7.50 top. Nor could all of the blame be laid at the retreating feet of the previous administration, for Alberto Erede, making his Metropolitan debut, proved to be no more than a workaday Italian opera conductor. He made some attempts at expressive phrasing and, in general, he was kind to the singers, But the performance as a whole was lacking in strength and musical direction. He had difficulty, particularly in the first two acts, in settling on a basic tempo and in rapid passages-most notably in the third-act gambling scene-he tended to flatten out rhythms so that they had no point or subtlety of inflection. There have been better "La Traviata"s conducted at the Metropolitan and there have been worse, but Mr. Erede's debut was disappointing.

Desire Defrère's stage direction, left over from last time, continued to utilize formulas that might well have been effective when they were fresh and informed by somebody's creative intelligence in the Metropolitan's first season. Some time during the intervening 67 years, however, the inspiration fled. What remains is not merely old-fashioned, but deadly in its stale routine.

The chorus retained its old inverted-V formation, and the principals trod the same, familiar paths across the stage-except Ferruccio Tagliavini, who had ideas of his own about Alfredo's movement. While Frank Guarrera was singing "Di Provenza," Mr. Tagliavini mugged, tore up the letter, crossed in front of him, broke the quill pen on the table, and finally threw it down just at the climax of the aria. It was a touching display of emotion, but the intention seemed something less than honorable. Mr. Tagliavini also exhibited a destructive habit of walking upstage during conversational passages, leaving the other singers with the option of turning their backs to the audience or singing to the prompter. It might be well to obtain a stage director who could turn such ingenuity into profitable channels.

The singing, except for Miss Kirsten's, was similarly undistinguished. She, however, sang beautifully, with virtually perfect focus and control and a great many expressive nuances. All that remains for her to do is to get more completely inside the role and integrate fully the magnificently apposite qualities she already brings to it. She has been a strikingly attractive woman and a fine vocalist since she first came to the Metropolitan and she is coming more and more to be a really exciting operatic singing actress.

Mr. Tagliavini, not in his ripest voice, showed a commendable tendency to reduce the purely personal stylistic component in his singing. Time and again he has shown that he is fully aware of the differences between valid style and lush theatricalism and only his "Dei miei bollenti spiriti" in this performance brought out his exhibitionism in full force. Mr. Guarrera, singing Germont in place of Paolo Silveri, who through indisposition missed what was to have been his debut, seemed to be fighting a cold. Although he phrased intelligently, his voice rarely sounded its rich, full best.

Margaret Roggero, one of Mr. Bing's new American singers, made her debut as Annina, a role that gave little basis for an estimate of her abilities. She looked attractive, though, and sang her few lines freshly and with due regard for their meaning. Clifford Harvout sounded fine as Baron Douphol, but did not get much dramatic tension into his delivery. Lucielle Browning as Flora, Leslie Chabay as Gaston, Lawrence Davidson as the Marquis d'Obigny and Osie Hawkins as Dr. Grenville rounded out the cast.

The performance also was the occasion for the debut of the new Ballet Theatre version of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, with Nana Gollner as premiere danseuse. Antony Tudor's quite ordinary idea of the gypsy dance in the third act was not very well performed, but in the ensuing bull-fight chorus he followed the lead of Charles Weidman's choreography for the New York City Opera Company and had his dancers mime out the story as the chorus told it. Miss Gollner made a handsome toreador and the whole episode was lively and easy to take.

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