[Met Performance] CID:164730

Le Nozze di Figaro
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, January 28, 1954

Le Nozze di Figaro (136)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Lorenzo Da Ponte
Cesare Siepi

Roberta Peters

Count Almaviva
George London

Countess Almaviva
Eleanor Steber

Mildred Miller

Dr. Bartolo
Gerhard Pechner

Hertha Glaz

Don Basilio
Alessio De Paolis

Lawrence Davidson

Genevieve Warner

Don Curzio
Gabor Carelli

Maria Leone

Sandra Warfield

Fritz Stiedry

Review 1:

Review of Howard Taubman in The New York Times

When the Metropolitan Opera can people its "Marriage of Figaro" with the kind of singers it had last night, one can almost forgive, if not overlook, unimaginative and confusing sets. This was the season's seventh performance of Mozart's masterpiece, and it may he doubted that it has been sung this year with more style and a higher standard throughout the cast.

The new elements were George London as the Count and Roberta Peters as Susanna. Miss Peters, who has made something of a habit of stepping into fat parts at the last minute ,and who, in fact, made her debut at the Metropolitan several years ago as Zerlina in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in just such a situation, filled in last night for the indisposed Nadine Conner. She made the most of the opportunity.

Miss Peters has the voice, figure and spirit for an attractive Susanna. She sang the role as though she had done it often before. There was some confusion about entrances and exits for Miss Peters and Mr. London, but these were excusable for performers new to these sets.

There is seldom a dearth of capable Susannas, but the interpreters who can make the Count more than a stock, pompous figure are rare. Mr. London turned this trick. He played the role with a force and dignity uncommon in any role, and in the third act, where Mozart has provided the Count with an aria that probes deep into his psychology, Mr. London's singing had stirring vitality and character.

Eleanor Steber, whose singing of the Countess is one of her finest achievements, also stopped the show in the third act with her aria. Here again Mozart tells us more about a character in a brief span than some dramatists could do in a whole evening and Miss Steber's exquisite Mozart style carried the composer's message fully and poignantly.

Cesare Siepi, singing his first Figaro of the season, has improved and loosened up in the role, and his singing always has been of a high order. Mildred Miller as Cherubino did some first-class work. And the others --Herta Glaz, Gerhard Pechner, Alessio De Paolis, Gabor Carelli, Lawrence Davidson, Genevieve Warner, Maria Leone and Sandra Warfield--were at home in their roles, Fritz Stiedry conducted understandingly.

Review 2:

Review of Robert Sabin in Musical America

The season's seventh performance of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro brought two new singers to the cast, one expected and the other unexpected. George London was heard as the Count Almaviva for the first time at the Metropolitan, and Roberta Peters sang her first Susanna there in a last minute substitution for Nadine Conner who was indisposed. Cesare Siepi sang the role of Figaro for the first time this season, but the rest of the cast was familiar from previous performances. Fritz Stiedry again conducted an eloquent performance.

Fifty years ago the tenor Andreas Dippel became famous at the Metropolitan jumping into an amazing variety of roles when other artists became suddenly ill. A New York newspaper once published a cartoon showing him in his underwear, waiting for last-minute word by telephone as to which costume from a copious wardrobe he should don. Miss Peters is winning a similar reputation for versatility and dependability in a crisis. She made her debut at the Metropolitan three seasons ago in a last-minute substitution for Miss Conner as Zerlina in "Don Giovanni" and, as recently as New Year's Eve, she took over the role of Adele in "Fledermaus" at short notice for Virginia MacWatters, who had been scheduled to substitute for Patrice Munsel.

Miss Peters knew the role of Susanna, but had never sung it in public and had had no rehearsal in it when she was notified that she was to appear in this performance. Yet she sang with assurance, considerable attention to style and with a sensitive feeling of ensemble in such passages as the duet with the Countess, "Sull' aria." She is a shining example of what preparedness can mean to a young artist in accelerating the progress of a career.

Mr. London's performance as Count Almaviva was perhaps the finest characterization and the most completely satisfying vocal work that he has given us thus far at the Metropolitan. His diction was impeccable, his phrasing was elegant, his bearing was aristocratic; and he understood down to the minutest nuance the peculiarities of this imperious and yet fundamentally good-hearted libertine. He was not in best voice, it seemed to me, in this performance, but he sang very well nonetheless.

Mr. Siepi's Figaro is greatly improved since last season. He sang this time with more animation, greater finish and with a wider range of dramatic shading. Eleanor Steber, always at her best in Mozart, was a charming Countess, albeit her voice did not always behave as beautifully for her as it has in other recent appearances in Mozart roles at the Metropolitan. Also admirable were Mildred Miller as Cherubino and Alessio De Paolis as Don Basilio. The other members of the cast, all of whom contributed to a generally animated performance, were Herta Glaz as Marcellina, Gerhard Pechner as Don Bartolo, Gabor Carelli as Don Curzio. Lawrence Davidson as Antonio, Genevieve Warner as Barbarina Maria Leone and Sandra Warfield as two Peasant Girls.

Mr. Stiedry and the orchestra were completely at one with the singers in achieving a perfection of ensemble and intimacy of spirit that are rare, even at the improved Metropolitan. One overlooked the ugly, awkward setting, so eloquent was the performance.

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