[Met Performance] CID:161330

La Gioconda
Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, December 16, 1952

Debut : Rex Cooper, John Nola

La Gioconda (165)
Amilcare Ponchielli | Arrigo Boito
La Gioconda
Zinka Milanov

Mario Del Monaco

Fedora Barbieri

Leonard Warren

Cesare Siepi

La Cieca
Jean Madeira

George Cehanovsky

Alessio De Paolis

Norman Scott

Algerd Brazis

Gabor Carelli

Lawrence Davidson

Janet Collins

Rex Cooper [Debut]

John Nola [Debut] [Debut and only performance]

Loren Hightower

Fausto Cleva

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Antonio Rovescalli

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Mathilde Castel-Bert

Zachary Solov

La Gioconda received seven performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


Milanov and Warren Head All-Star Cast in Lusty Performance of Work

"La Gioconda" was the opera last night at the Metropolitan, with an all-star cast.

The opera was sung roughly and lustily as the evening went on. Everyone was more or less pleased. There was a good deal of bad intonation; there were ragged edges, but the old piece has a most astonishing vitality and romanticism. It falls into conventions with the greatest of ease, yet there is some superb vocal writing in it and there is orchestra singularly in advance of this opera's time in Italy in its tone-painting.

There is something here for everyone - costumes, imposing old scenery, arias for all, the vividly attired ballet dancing its furlana with wild eroticism in the great square, the next moment crouching as the organ sounds, and prayerful harmonies are heard, and the Gioconda brings in the poor old Blind One and Mme. Milanov so melodiously laments her woes.

Mr. Warren has been giving out great fat tones as the plotting Barnaba, appearing later in the evening in the boat scene, in an extraordinary marine costume and plotting his foulest, while ostensibly exchanging repartee with the chorus which, with nets and ropes, is singing a marinaresca.

Mr. Monaco, tenor of the cast, sings his sweet romanza, and a compelling air it is-the "Cielo e mar." He sings it fervently and inelegantly-he could do so much more with so fine a voice-and the claque strikes with a resonance that equals his top B-fiat and the audience joins in the applause.

Superb singing of Mr. Siepi in the dark and heavy way that is perfectly suited to Alvise's part. In this scene, Miss Barbieri, who has the big voice and the grand manner, does some of her best interpreting of the evening. Jean Madeira was a distinctive feature of the cast.

Mme. Milanov began rather poorly, and joined the majority who now and again deviated gayly from the pitch, but in later scenes she was fully herself and sovereign artist.

The ballet of the Dance of the Hours was done in the classic fashion, with some new business that emphasized the soloist element rather too much for the hest effect of the final ensemble. But if they had only shown us the finished and admirable art of Janet Collins it would have made the spectacle worthwhile.

This is the opera for which one "Tobia Gorrio," otherwise Arrigo Boito, wrote the libretto-the, same Boito who wrote the libretti of Verdi's two greatest operas. He may well have felt it reasonable to disguise his identity, as having to do with the lurid tale. Just the same, his story precipitated music, and the music, once considered modern, now wholly of the past in its devices of workmanship, nevertheless excites a contemporaneous audience. The orchestra was under the competent baton of Fausto Cleva.

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