[Met Performance] CID:167200

Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, November 30, 1954

Review 1:

Review of R. A. E. in the December 15, 1954 issue of Musical America

Since "Aida" was commissioned to open the Suez Canal, the opera was given on this occasion to commemorate the signing 100 years ago of the Suez Canal Charter and many representatives of the French and Egyptian governments attended.

The performance was also noteworthy because of a triple shift in the cast, brought on by the illness of two singers. Blanche Thebom replaced Nell Rankin as Amneris; Norman Scott, who had been cast as Ramfis, substituted for Luben Vichey as the King; and Cesare Siepi took over the role of Ramfis. Singing the part of Amonasro for the first time at the Metropolitan was Ettore Bastianini.

Notwithstanding the changes, the performance moved smoothly, since most of the singers were long experienced in their parts. Miss Thebom's Amneris was notable for completeness of detail in action, for the lyric moments in her singing in Act II and for the dramatic power she summoned in the Judgment Scene. Mr. Siepi's rich voice was as effective as always as the High Priest and Mr. Scott discharged his chores faithfully.

Young Mr. Bastianini has one of the finest baritone voices at the Metropolitan today and it sounded exceptionally exciting in Amonasro's music. As yet the artist seemed a little ill at ease in movement, nor did he make the most of his music, but he is still a talent to watch.

Zinka Milanov and Mario Del Monaco were the ill-fated lovers; James McCracken, as the Messenger, and Rosalind Elias, as the Priestess, completed the cast. Miss Milanov and Mr. Del Monaco sang with variable effectiveness until the third act, when they both poured out tones of fascinating color.

Zachary Solov, choreographer, has this year given for dance of Amneris' slaves to girls or a singularly pallid concoction. Mia Slavenska performed quite well the solo part in the Triumphal Scene ballet, but was out of her element in the sinuous movement designed for her predecessor, Janet Collins. Larry Boyette and Louis Kosman were her partners.

Fausto Cleva was a tower of strength and dependability in the pit, leading a vigorous, dramatic performance.

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