[Met Tour] CID:188320

O'Keefe Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Tue, May 30, 1961

Turandot (43)
Giacomo Puccini | Giuseppe Adami/Renato Simoni
Birgit Nilsson

Franco Corelli

Teresa Stratas

Bonaldo Giaiotti

Frank Guarrera

Robert Nagy

Charles Anthony

Emperor Altoum
Alessio De Paolis

Calvin Marsh

Prince of Persia
Edilio Ferraro

Thomas Russell

Craig Crosson

Robert Bishop [Last performance]

Howard Sayette

Wally Adams [Last performance]

William Burdick

Kurt Adler

Review 1:

Review of John Kraglund in the Toronto Globe and Mail

Dazzling Birgit Nilsson Makes Grand Theatre of Turandot

If the name Turandot was not emblazoned in the Toronto sky over the O'Keefe Centre last night, it was because the cosmic forces had concentrated upon the spelling of Birgit Nilsson, who interpreted the title role in the Puccini opera. The second production in the Metropolitan Opera Company's Toronto season, sponsored by the Rotary Club, was the most convincing evidence this city has ever been offered that grand opera is also grand theatre. Before this

Review 2:

Review becomes hopelessly entangled in superlatives inadequate to describe the artistry of Miss Nilsson, it should be pointed out that the production as a whole warranted almost unqualified praise.

The reservations that exist were often prompted by comparative factors, but I, for one, would not have exchanged perfect balance for the imbalance occasioned by Miss Nilsson's dazzling performance. The production, originally by Yoshio Aoyama, made its initial impact through eyes dampened by lavish and authentic exciting sets and costumes designed by Cecil Beaton, and even this had been preceded by an initial hint of excitement in the orchestral chords that serve as a prelude.

Conductor Kurt Adler gave ample evidence of musianship and keen insight into the dramatic aspects of the opera as the performance progressed. But the start had been a trifle slow, for the chorus imparted little of its bloodthirsty character at the [beginning]. Consequently its change of heart was little more than a change of volume.

The initial impact provided by Miss Nilsson, making her local debut, was also visual, for in the first act she does not sing. However, Franco Corelli, probably the handsomest tenor on any stage, who was also making his first Toronto appearance, quickly made his presence felt with his ringing tones throughout the densest choral textures. It was unfortunate he did not maintain this level throughout. I can only put it down to end-of-season fatigue, for on the one previous occasion when I heard him he made it quite clear that he had the vocal quality and stamina to rise to provide as much excitement as even the greatest soprano. But there were occasions, as the opera progressed, when his voice faded into the background and, unless my ears deceived me, he did not sing his final line at all.

For Toronto, there was added interest in the appearance of soprano Teresa Stratas as Liu, the slave girl. This young singer's voice is developing exceptionally well and it did musical justice to the two big arias allotted to Liu. She has not, as yet, mastered the interpretive aspects of the role, so emotional intensity was missing from the performance. But her big, well-projected voice promises wide acclaim in the near future.

The reason that everything else paled by comparison to Miss Nilsson's interpretation was obvious from the first line of her [first] aria, "In Questa Reggia." Even the required coldness of the role could not dispel the excitement occasioned by a superbly focused voice that scaled the stratospheric tessitura (prime reason for the opera's rare performances) with seeming effortlessness. Anyone who is familiar with the plot of the opera knows that Turandot is a heartless creature. Yet, it is doubtful that Miss Nilsson failed to wet the hearts of most of the audience, which she lifted out of their seats, if my own reaction is any criterion.

There was much excellent singing throughout the entire opera. A notable contribution was made by the rich, bass voice of Bonaldo Giaiotti (Timur), another newcomer to this city, And the commedia dell-arte characters - Ping, Pang and Pong - sung by Frank Guarrera, Robert Nagy and Charles Anthony, not only provided a touch of tragic-comedy, but also gave impressive vocal performances, particularly in the lovely music of the third act.

And not the least delightful aspect of the evening was the fact that there was little opportunity to think about the relative merits of the O'Keefe Centre as an opera house. However, there was reason to repeat the theory that the Met seems to be in better form than it has been in previous visits to Toronto. Today it will present two Verdi operas - "La Traviata" (matinee) and "Aida" (evening).

Greeted Backstage

Toronto's gift to the Metropolitan Opera, Teresa Stratas, was greeted backstage at the O'Keefe Centre by dozens of well-wishers and floral tributes last night following the performance of Puccini's "Turandot." Miss Stratas' role in the opera called for her to commit suicide before the end of the last act, and so she had time to prepare to receive her guests.

Her mother, Mrs. Emanuel Stratas, said the flowers were from 20th Century Fox Corp., for whom she is to make another movie, and from every member of the Stratas family, and friends and admirers. Her parents were beaming as the crowd filed into her crowded dressing room, but their smiles were no broader than that of her former teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Irene Jessner, who for 16 years was a leading soprano with the Metropolitan company.

"I only wish," remarked Miss Jessner, "that all my pupils were like Teresa. She came to my studio when she was 17 and was my pupil for four years. Like all first-class artists, budding or established, she was never satisfied with her work." If Miss Jessner had foreseen a future for Miss Stratas six years ago, the young soprano's father said he knew she was destined for bit things when she was 13. "In fact," he said, "when she was almost 5 years old I could seen the die cast and that she would be a professional entertainer some day. "Of course, I never dreamed she would climb the heights she did tonight." Mrs. Stratas was too affected to speak and just kept smiling and nodding to the stream of persons paying tribute to her daughter.

Search by season: 1960-61

Search by title: Turandot,

Met careers