[Met Performance] CID:174300

La Gioconda
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, March 7, 1957

La Gioconda (176)
Amilcare Ponchielli | Arrigo Boito
La Gioconda
Zinka Milanov

Richard Tucker

Nell Rankin

Leonard Warren

Giorgio Tozzi

La Cieca
Belén Amparan

George Cehanovsky

Alessio De Paolis

Norman Scott

Louis Sgarro

Calvin Marsh

James McCracken

Mary Ellen Moylan

Michael Maule

Fausto Cleva

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Antonio Rovescalli

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Mathilde Castel-Bert

Zachary Solov

La Gioconda received four performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Jay S. Harrison in the Herald Tribune

Met Presents 'La Gioconda' For First Time in 2 Years

Amilcare PonchieIli's "La Gioconda," presented last night at the Metropolitan for the first time in two years, received the kind of performance - for good or ill - that only a major repertory theater can possibly assemble. The singing was excellent, the band played in tune, the chorus caught all its cues, the tempos were. thoroughly justified and not a single dancer tripped. Even the lighting was a thing of wonder, the electricians happily going so far as to darken the stage at precisely the moment the second act moon disappeared into the sea. A genuine marvel, all this. For pure and ideal synchronization of operatic cause and effect one might wander the calendar 'round to find a "Gioconda" like it.

And yet despite the scrubbed surface and. high polish of the venture there was something about it that stubbornly refused to click. By all odds, the performance should have amounted to the sum of its parts, though strangely enough it quite failed to. Myself, I lean to the view that the soloists were so much concerned with singing to the audience that they forgot their fellows on stage and consequently did not respond to them in any fashion even remotely human.

Understand, I do not suggest that "Gioconda" is a paragon of what operatic sentiment should be or that its dramatic motives make enough sense to generate the necessity for great acting; but common theatrical reason must make it apparent that unless an audience believes that lovers are lovers and that a villain is a villain the whole works becomes so much paper puppetry, And last night, I for one, was convinced that Enzo didn't give a hang for Laura any more than Barnaba gave a hoot for Gioconda.

So much for quibbling. The singing was of an order rare, and Maestro Cleva's orchestra behaved in impeccable style. Miss Milanov produced a score of piano tones in alt such as no other living soprano could fairly duplicate, and Mr. Tucker strode through "Cielo e mar" as though he wished the world to remember him solely from the way he sang it. Miss Rankin, though her mezzo was a mite bloodless, managed, on occasion, to dye her voice with stained-glass window colors, and Mr. Warren offered a surging, full-throated Barnaba whose baritone all but destroyed the rafters. Belén Amparan, appearing as La Cieca for the first time with the company, began somewhat tentatively but grew in assurance, carrying power and breadth as the evening progressed. As a splendid vocal concert, therefore, "Gioconda" was a feast. As an opera, peopled with figures whose hearts beat and whose passions could be shared, however, the performance was markedly bland.

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