[Met Performance] CID:190370

Orfeo ed Euridice
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, March 3, 1962

Debut : Arthur Mitchell, John Taras

Orfeo ed Euridice (63)
Christoph Willibald Gluck | Ranieri de' Calzabigi
Kerstin Meyer

Lucine Amara

Anneliese Rothenberger

Violette Verdy

Katharyn Horne

Carole Kroon

Arthur Mitchell [Debut]

Howard Sayette

Richard Zelens

Jean Morel

Michael Manuel

Set Designer
Harry Horner

Costume Designer
Frank Bevan

John Taras [Debut]

Orfeo ed Euridice received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday

Gluck's "Orfeo" is a work of such eloquence and distinction that its inclusion in the Metropolitan Opera's repertory must, of itself, be set aside from the ritual of the ordinary on the occasions when it is heard. This, then, is a season of "Orfeo," and its first performance cast a spell that soothed the spirit and glorified the senses as only Gluck can.

It is well known that Orfeo can be sung by a male alto, by a tenor, and by the mezzo voice which has become traditional since Hector Berlioz made the version now commonly in use (for Pauline Viardot in the 1850s). Of the two possible present-day alternatives - male altos being an all but extinct breed - Metropolitan preference has always tended to the mezzo voice, though it might be a profitable digression to venture a tenor Orfeo, or even such a baritone as Fischer-Dieskau or Gerard Souzay.

Presently the Orfeo is Kerstin Meyer, whose debut in "Carmen" a season ago rather confused the nature of her true abilities. She looks well, carries herself with a suitably male stride, and acts the distress of the bereaved Orfeo with simple dignity. Where the music lies well for her voice - the upper compass rather than the lower - she performs with fine musicality and a pleasant avoidance of the ostentatious.

However, these are qualities on the periphery of the strong central substance of the part (such as Giulietta Simionato delivered in her concert version with the American Opera Society in Town Hall in the fall of 1960. Beside a quaver in the all-important lower range of her voice, Miss Meyer rarely approaches what might be called rapture - that indefinable emanation of emotion which can be transmitted even by a voice lacking richness or vibrance. I was surprised that her "Furie, larve, ombre sdegnate" actually moved the Furies and Monsters of the underworld to relent; it scarcely had so impressive a ring to me. Again, "Più puro è ciel" expressed Miss Meyer's appreciation of the beauty in Gluck's concept of the Elysian Fields more through phrasing and accent than by a sound of real distinction. As for the "Che faro," the roster of good performances of it is longer than the list of good Orfeos; it was perhaps the best of Miss Meyer's effort. Lucine Amara was Euridice, in a familiar style, and Anneliese Rothenberger, an unfamiliar Amore, was also a rather small-scaled one. Jean Morel's conducting gave shape and color to the score, though not nearly the dramatic thrust it can have.

On the whole, the visual aspects of this "Orfeo" were more absorbing than the aural, for Harry Homer's settings (of 1938) still provide an atmospheric frame for the action and Violette Verdy (a replacement for the absent Alicia Markova) is an excellent dancer, as is Arthur Mitchell, who shared the place of prominence with her. John Taras designed the choreography, which was theatrically justifying if somewhat showy, in its lifts and leaps, for the repose of the Elysian Fields.

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