[Met Performance] CID:171420

Manon Lescaut
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, March 31, 1956 Matinee Broadcast
Broadcast Matinee Broadcast

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday

For those who value the fine vocal art this is a winter in which the appearances of Jussi Björling have been too few, and decidedly too far apart. It began promisingly, with a Carnegie Hall recital followed by an appearance with Renata Tebaldi at a Symphony of the Air concert. But little has been heard of him at the Metropolitan Opera, which made his recent appearance for a Saturday broadcast of "Manon Lescaut" with Licia Albanese all the more notable.

November 24, 1958, is a date in the fairly near future, but when it rolls around Björling will have been singing at the Metropolitan for twenty years. To judge from the freshness and warmth, the solidity and ring of the sound he is currently producing, this should be but a waypoint on a singing career paralleled by few tenors of our time. With all respect for those who have done the lion's share of the roaring at the Metropolitan this season, Björling brings something individual, refined, and cherishable into the operatic jungle, which -- to say the least - more should have the opportunity to enjoy.

With such so staunch a partner as Licia Albanese to give her own skilful version of the heroine and Dimitri Mitropoulos providing responsive leadership, this was the best account of Puccini's earliest masterpiece to be heard this season. Luster and ring are no longer the characteristics of the Albanese voice, but she manipulates it with more finesse than ever and, in such a role as this, with a kind of characterization that puts no barriers between the composer's creation and the audience. Chalk up another strong non-comic characterization for Fernando Corena as Geronte, a capable Lescaut by Frank Guarrera, and excellent efforts in smaller parts by Rosalind Elias, Thomas Hayward, and Alessio di Paolis. Here was an occasion to which the management could point - if it was vulgarly disposed-with pride.

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