[Met Performance] CID:176510

Le Nozze di Figaro
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, December 19, 1957

Le Nozze di Figaro (166)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Lorenzo Da Ponte
Cesare Siepi

Laurel Hurley

Count Almaviva
George London

Countess Almaviva
Lisa Della Casa

Mildred Miller

Dr. Bartolo
Fernando Corena

Regina Resnik

Don Basilio
Norman Kelley

Lorenzo Alvary

Mildred Allen

Don Curzio
Gabor Carelli

Madelaine Chambers

Helen Vanni

Erich Leinsdorf

Hans Busch

Set Designer
Jonel Jorgulesco

Costume Designer
Ladislas Czettel

Zachary Solov

Le Nozze di Figaro received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Robert Sabin in the January 15, 1958 issue of Musical America

The Mozart?year is obviously not ended at the Metropolitan, even though the divine Wolfgang will have been dead for 102 years next Jan. 27. Having brought us a superb new production of "Don Giovanni" on Oct. 31, the Metropolitan offered a "Figaro" on this occasion (the first performance of the season) that seemed almost as fresh as a new production. Thanks to Hans Busch's imaginative stage direction, Erich Leinsdorf's winged conducting and the splendid singing of a distinguished cast.

"Le Nozze di Figaro" was one of Herbert Graf's most satisfying achievements in stage direction, but this new version by Hans Busch is quite as good and even livelier. It is richly detailed, but always with an eye and an ear to what is happening in the libretto or the music-it is never fussy or officious.

Nor should Mr. Leinsdorf's masterly conducting go without equal praise. He took the overture a shade too fast for elegance and he needed most of the first act to throw off all signs of nervous tension, but thenceforth the performance was a Mozartean's dream, notable for its transparent sound, faultless balances, felicitous tempos and iridescent instrumental coloring. The human values of this unbelievably beautiful work were also profoundly realized. One left the theatre marveling for the hundredth time at Mozart's incomparable completeness as an artist.

Three of the singers took their roles for the first time at the Metropolitan: Regina Resnik, as Marcellina; Norman Kelley, as Don Basilio; and Mildred Allen, as Barbarina. All three, I am happy to report, gave distinguished performances. Miss Resnik, an expert actress, brought charm and vocal amplitude to the role. Her Marcellina was not a waspish caricature, but a real personage, and her voice sounded exceptionally well. She was careful to scale it down in the ensembles. It was a pleasure, also, to hear so solid a voice in the role of Don Basilio and Mr. Kelley brought out the man's oily slyness and sharp malice without making him inhuman. Miss Allen sang the "Pin" aria very beautifully.

George London's finest operatic role, perhaps, is his Count Almaviva -a model of style, diction and dramatic polish. My only quarrel with Lisa Della Casa, as the Countess, was her hoydenish bearing in the second act. Rosina, before her marriage, it is true, had been a pert little minx, but Mozart portrays a noble and dignified woman in his music and Miss Della Casa was led too far by the merry mood of this scene. Later, she recaptured the spirit of the role. The "Dove sono" in Act III had all of the elegance and poignance that one missed in the "Porgi amor" of Act II. Needless to say, her liquid and voluptuous tone quality was unfailing.

It was in the heavenly duet "Sull'aria" with Miss Della Casa and in her aria, "Deh vieni," that Laurel Hurley was at her best. Hers is a merry Susanna, but I personally would appreciate a little less of the soubrette quality in her singing, although she was always expert.

Cesare Siepi's improvement as Don Giovanni is reflected in the greater polish and ease of his Figaro. He was wholly captivating in this performance. Mildred Miller, a splendid Cherubino, was not in best voice, but nonetheless gave an excellent account of herself. Also admirable were Fernando Corena, as Don Bartolo; Lorenzo Alvary, as Antonio; Gabor Carelli, as Don Curzio; and Madelaine Chambers and Helen Vanni, as the Peasant Girls.

The ballet in Act III was danced with especial crispness and nobility of style at this wholly felicitous performance.

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