[Met Performance] CID:181240

Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, February 25, 1959

Aida (625)
Giuseppe Verdi | Antonio Ghislanzoni
Leonie Rysanek

Carlo Bergonzi

Nell Rankin

Leonard Warren

Cesare Siepi

Ezio Flagello

Robert Nagy

Helen Vanni

Edith Jerell

Bruce Marks

Alek Zybine [Last performance]

Fausto Cleva

Review 1:

Review of Ronald Eyer in the March 1959 issue of Musical America

For a woman of the intelligence of Leonie Rysanek, the role of Aida is an intellectual as well as a musical challenge. And in this, her second characterization at the Metropolitan (the first having been Lady Macbeth), she proved herself to be more than equal to the task on both counts. To a role which has become largely stereotyped and in which one anticipates little variation, except in costume and make-up, between one soprano and another, Miss Rysanek introduces evidence of new thinking and a re-evaluation of its dramatic potentialities. Every phrase had its own substantiating gesture or movement, and the very accentuation and shaping of the vocal line held a pertinence and an awareness of detail which, with a less meticulous artist, time and repetition would long since have worn away.

Though it may not possess all of the volume one might desire for the full-organ emotional climaxes, the voice, fresh and unrestrained, has a luminous natural beauty; and Miss Rysanek is so skillful a singer that she can make every note count in her favor. Her top tones are pure and solid, and among her most dramatic assets is a limpid, perfectly controlled mezza voce which can swell without a break into a brilliant fortissimo.

The Austrian soprano was surrounded by one of the finest "Aida" casts that can be assembled today. Leonard Warren, most persuasive of Amonasros, was at the peak of his form. Carlo Bergonzi, though basically a lyric tenor, demonstrated an increasing potency in dramatic delivery as Radames. Nell Rankin was an icily beautiful and regal Amneris. Cesare Siepi was as impressive in voice as in deportment as Ramfis, and Ezio Flagello was dignified and vocally opulent as the King. After a somewhat ragged [beginning] Fausto Cleva, the conductor, held the performance firmly under a commanding baton.

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