[Met Performance] CID:177460

Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, March 17, 1958

Review 1:

Review of Harriett Johnson in the Post

Milanov sings First Met Desdemona

Soprano Zinka Milanov, at long last, joined the list of Otello's distaff victims last night at the Metropolitan Opera when she sang her first Desdemona in the Broadway house. The Verdi masterpiece, probably the finest combine of libretto and music in the repertory, is a challenge to all of its leading protagonists. Mme Milanov was more than equal to the demands.

It was obvious that Miss Milanov had given much thought to preparing the role, though, of course, she had previously sung it elsewhere. In expressive potential, Desdemona's music, with its bewilderment at Otello's persecution and distress at his accusations, is excellently suited to Miss Milanov's voice, and one wonders why she has not sung the part here before.

The fourth act of "Otello," including the "O Salce" and the "Ave Maria," needs especially the kind of silken soft tones of which the soprano is mistress, and for which she is justly famous in the top register. Throughout the opera, she sang "sotte voce" with the utmost beauty. Even during the high portions where climatic impact is required, Mme. Milanov was also at her best, singing for the most part with ease and with an effulgent quality.

Her portrayal encompassed the naïveté of Desdemona, her lack of guile and inability to comprehend the iniquity about her, despite premonition of death. In fact this is the most consistently impressive singing and interpretation of a part I remember from Mme. Milanov in some time, even more so than her Leonora in "La Forza del Destino."

Del Monaco Magnificent

Mario Del Monaco in the title role sang magnificently, even better than he had at the first performance. In both acting and vocalism, he too, was outstanding. The enthusiastic house even cheered another famous Otello, white-haired Giovanni Martinelli, when he returned to his seat for the fourth act.

The beauty of Leonard Warren's voice was again heard to excellent. advantage as Iago. Paul Franke was first-rate in the role of Cassio. Fausto Cleva conducted with power and authority.

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