[Met Performance] CID:177010

Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, February 4, 1958

Review 1:

Review of Julius Franz Simet in the March 1958 issue of Musical America

This evening was marked by a genuine grand-opera spirit-exciting, moving, with beautiful singing and a dramatic sweep. Two great ladies of the opera dominated the performance: Antonietta Stella in the title role and Blanche Thebom as Amneris, both singing their respective parts for the first time this season.

Miss Stella's passionate slave girl of gentle blood was in appearance, deportment, and characterization ideal. She moved with infinite grace, her gestures were round and natural, and her facial expressions-masterfully controlled-always a mirror of suppressed restlessness. Vocally, also, (save for occasional slight strain and dryness in high notes) Miss Stella displayed superb artistry. Her voice, warm, velvety, and pliant, carried with ease and absolute security in pitch. The phrasing was polished and arched in grand style. Her great dramatic scene in the first act, "Ritorna vincitor" with the closing cantabile "Numi, pieta," was an experience of great operatic format.

Miss Thebom's portrayal of Amneris, the vicious, full-blooded creature whom Verdi loved so much, was equally satisfying. Her dramatization was intense, impulsive, trembling with rage and desire, and her enthralling looks were complemented by the quality of her vocalism. Her well-focused singing had glow and-even in the upper ranges-astounding strength and volume.

The rest of the cast was familiar. Robert Merrill's Amonasro was sung and acted with vigor; Carlo Bergonzi's singing as Radames was, aside from a few nicely pitched high notes, pushed and unbalanced. In other roles were Louis Sgarro, Norman Scott, Robert Nagy, and Helen Vanni. The ballet was colorful and danced with fresh animation. Fausto Cleva was the secure and sensitive musical leader.

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