[Met Performance] CID:173310

Le Nozze di Figaro
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, December 1, 1956 Matinee

Le Nozze di Figaro (156)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Lorenzo Da Ponte
Cesare Siepi

Hilde Güden

Count Almaviva
Martial Singher

Countess Almaviva
Lisa Della Casa

Mildred Miller

Dr. Bartolo
Fernando Corena

Sandra Warfield

Don Basilio
Alessio De Paolis

Lorenzo Alvary

Emilia Cundari

Don Curzio
Gabor Carelli

Madelaine Chambers

Helen Vanni

Stage Manager
Robert Herman

Max Rudolf

Herbert Graf

Set Designer
Jonel Jorgulesco

Costume Designer
Ladislas Czettel

Zachary Solov

Le Nozze di Figaro received ten performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Paul Henry Lang in the Herald Tribune

"Aren't you tired of all this music?" the critic is often asked. Well, we do get tired of it, but then just when the bombast and pounding begins to get on our nerves, something comes along that not only restores our enthusiasm for music but makes the eternal carnival worth while. Saturday afternoon's "Figaro" provided one of these oases. The Met put in the field an exceptional cast and the old house resounded with almost uninterrupted fine singing. Add to this an alert and spirited orchestra, and the result was a musical feast.

Nor was the feast for the ear only. Most of these singers are good looking young artists, full of life, and they liked what they were doing. Mr. Graf's production

(more precisely, what is left of it) is a good one in spite of the old sets, and the stage is pleasant to watch.

Lisa Della Casa was both beautiful and believable. She was capable of banter, but the undertone of sorrow and disappointment was not missing. Her arias were superb and always, always on pitch, Hilda Gueden (Susanna), well, she too is beautiful, and she too has a very fine voice. That voice has to be both light and powerful, for in the ensembles she must carry the treble authoritatively. That she did - on true pitch - carrying out her acting assignment pertly.

Mildred Miller always excels as Cherubino, but yesterday Mr. Rudolf permitted her all the flexibility in her arias of which she is capable. "Voi che sapete" was fresh as spring. She too is a true believer in the sanctity of pitch. Since Miss Miller impersonated an adolescent boy I cannot comment on her looks, but privately I may add that she can join the other two Graces.

Sandra Warfield is a talented singer, the possessor of a very good and well-placed voice which she uses intelligently. She did very well, but if someone told her that comical effects can be obtained by deliberately singing a bit flat, she should sue him for damages. Such "realism" is out of place in opera; only absolutely musical sounds are permissible. After the first act she seldom used this device and her singing was worthy of that of her colleagues.

The role of Count Almaviva is made for Martial Singher. His voice, well controlled, was round and resonant, his articulation clear and musicianly and his deportment very appropriate. For a young man, Cesare Siepi demonstrated a remarkable growth

in understanding of this exacting role. His wonderful voice has the agility needed for this mercurial part, and his acting has greatly improved. Furthermore, unlike some other occasions, yesterday found him solidly on pitch.

Fernando Corena is a buffo of the old school - a good actor with a good voice. Put him in any role and he will make the most of it.

The beauty of this "Figaro" was that all the small roles were sung by singers with good and accurate voices - a rare occasion these days in any theater.

Now we come to the chief engineer on whom depends the functioning of the complicated musical machinery of a Mozart opera. Mr. Rudolf is a master conductor who can manipulate an orchestra with the utmost precision. Occasionally he is a little inflexible, but yesterday he was in fine form, and, aside from a few patches where the orchestra was a little loud, everything went beautifully. He watched over every single instrument and all the woodwinds could be heard; some of the aria accompaniments were delicious, and the ensembles clicked with precision.

The productions occasionally showed the absence of the cat - Mr. Graf - and the consequent playing of the mice. This is not a farce but the crowning glory of opera buffa. The Met should be careful not to permit such deterioration as took place in "Cosi fan Tutte"; "Figaro" is too valuable a property to be cheapened.

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