[Met Performance] CID:164930

La Forza del Destino
Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, February 17, 1954

La Forza del Destino (77)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Herva Nelli

Don Alvaro
Gino Penno

Don Carlo
Leonard Warren

Padre Guardiano
Nicola Moscona

Margaret Roggero

Fra Melitone
Gerhard Pechner

Marquis de Calatrava
Luben Vichey

Thelma Votipka

Alessio De Paolis

Algerd Brazis

Renato Cellini

Review 1:

Review of Jay S. Harrison in the Herald Tribune

Gino Penno, making his debut with the Metropolitan Opera last night as Don Alvaro in Verdi's "Forza del Destino," brought down the house at the conclusion of his second act aria. If I may hazard the prediction, he will continue to bring down the house as long as there is high C left in him.

To begin with, tenor voice possessed by Mr. Penno is huge-as huge, in fact, as any that has shattered the Met rafters in these many years. Indeed, Mr. Penno sounds louder singing to the back of the stage than most tenors do singing to the front. And he is not in the least timid about using his voice full force. Once he has sighted a note above the staff, he rides to it gallantly, and once arrived, he remains for quite a while.

For this, however, he pays a price. His tones, at their wide open level, turn brassy and have something of an unnatural ring. His pitch is unrefined, as is, in addition, his manner of phrasing. And it should come as no surprise that an occasional explosive burst of sound detracts immensely from the smoothness of his melodic line and its appropriateness in context. This is in some ways a pity, though in other ways it is not. There is, after all, something vastly exhilarating about hearing a lusty and barrel-chested tenor unafraid of his capacities. But on the other hand, no amount of high-powered singing can ever substitute for vocal elegance or tonal purity. He will be applauded, will Mr. Penno. He will

be cheered and bravoed and idolized. But if his work of the occasion is a trustworthy indication, it will not be beloved of that segment of the opera public to whom a stentorian blast to rattle the gates of doom is never more than that.

The evening's performance also listed as the first appearance of Herva Nelli as Leonora. It was a rendition all uneven. Her range of tones encompassed those of rare loveliness and also included notes that were veiled in color and nasal in quality. Miss Nelli also has a tendency to tighten as she approaches a difficult passage, with the result that her tenseness cottons to the music and projects as a part of it. In the acting of her role, however, she seemed more at ease than she has on previous viewings.

For his share, Mr. Penno cut a fine figure and proved to be a swashbuckler in the grand tradition.

The remaining cast members, conducted by Renato Cellini, included Leonard Warren. Lubomir Vichegonov, Nicola Moscona and Gerhard Pechner. They all contributed a portion of vividness to the evening's excitement. But let no one be fooled. It was Mr. Penno's night and his alone.

Review 2:

Review Miles Kastendieck in the Journal American

Whatever force of destiny brought the Italian tenor Gino Penno to make his Metropolitan debut last night in Verdi's opera by that name works for good.

Prodigal of voice; handsome in appearance, and winning in manner, Penno brought a brilliance and freshness to his performance as Don Alvaro that had the audience cheering. He should prove a notable addition to the company.

As his voice rang out in the fullness of its power, it qualified as one of the biggest to be heard in years. Used with more discretion and with more finish, it could be one of the most exciting.

It is almost overpowering, its quality almost too bright. Perhaps it has more warmth when the strain of a first appearance is past.

As a singer, Penno makes a dashing hero. He shows flexibility in action. Whether the element of theatre has fully entered into his performance remains undetermined at the moment. He appeared conscious of being a singer first on this occasion.

Another fresh aspect of the performance was the "debut" of Herva Nelli as Leonora. At her best she sang extremely well, with pure tones and melting quality.

Her production accounted for some unevenness but otherwise did not detract from a basically fine soprano voice. She made an appealing Leonora in looks and in action.

The audience accepted her enthusiastically.

An excellent account of Don Carlo by Leonard Warren added to the high standard of the whole performance. Nicola Moscona and Gerhard Pechner repeated their successful portrayals of Guardiano and Melitone respectively.

Conducting his first Metropolitan performance this season, Renato Cellini kept the opera moving with precision in execution and brightness of effect. He conveyed its spirit convincingly except in the camp-followers' scene which fell flat in almost every way.

Repeated hearings of "La Forza Del Destino" place it among the best offerings the Metropolitan currently exhibits.

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