[Met Performance] CID:183610

Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, December 25, 1959

Aida (632)
Giuseppe Verdi | Antonio Ghislanzoni
Leonie Rysanek

Kurt Baum

Nell Rankin

Cornell MacNeil

Cesare Siepi

Ezio Flagello

Robert Nagy

Helen Vanni

Edith Jerell

Bruce Marks

Frank Piper

Fausto Cleva

Review 1:

Review of Robert Sabin in the January 15, 1960 issue of Musical America

One of the most amazing qualities of great artists is their power to remint the works which they perform, a power which was. memorably demonstrated by Leonie Rysanek when she returned to the Metropolitan on Christmas night to sing the title role of Verdi s "Aida." Throughout the evening, I found myself "rediscovering" subtle musical nuances and dramatic touches in this miraculous score. And, most important of all, the classic grandeur of

Verdi's music became crystal clear. Like the illustrious Elisabeth Rethberg, Miss Rysanek sings Verdi spaciously, as immaculately, and sensitively as she would sing Mozart. This does not mean she robs it of its theatrical heat and energy; just the opposite; she combines dramatic intensity and insight with scrupulous regard for the musical and verbal text.

Such phrases as the exquisite "O fresche valli, o queto asil beato" in the Nile Scene had a haunting beauty that lingers in one's memory. At the other end of the scale, such things as that tremendous phrase on "colpir" in the Triumphal Scene in which the voice soars fortissimo to a high B flat and descends in four triplets to a pianissimo found Miss Rysanek equally consummate as a singer. Needless to say, the audience left no doubt about its appreciation of this revelatory performance.

Also new to the cast this season were Kurt Baum, as Radames, and Ezio Flagello, as the King. Mr. Baum performed with dignity, but he was not in best vocal form and he had trouble with top phrases. In that final ""si schiude it ciel," he was unable to obey the dolcissimo and spoiled Miss Rysanek's heavenly phrase. Except for forgetting once or twice to remain forbidding and becoming much too jolly for an Egyptian King, Mr. Flagello was admirable, both vocally and dramatically.

Others in the cast, in familiar roles, were Cornell MacNeil (who sang with the same kind of lofty artistry as Miss Rysanek), as Amonasro; Nell Rankin, as Amneris; Cesare Siepi, as Ramfis; Robert Nagy, as a Messenger; and Helen Vanni, as a Priestess. The ballet again gave a spirited performance of Zachary Solov's new choreography.

Fausto Cleva, too, felt the gala nature of the evening and conducted with special eloquence.

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