[Met Performance] CID:190430

La Gioconda
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, March 9, 1962

Debut : Lili Chookasian

La Gioconda (192)
Amilcare Ponchielli | Arrigo Boito
La Gioconda
Zinka Milanov

Franco Corelli

Nell Rankin

Robert Merrill

Giorgio Tozzi

La Cieca
Lili Chookasian [Debut]

George Cehanovsky

Alessio De Paolis

Louis Sgarro

Nicola Barbusci

Paul De Paola

Anthony Balestrieri [Last performance]

Katharyn Horne

Nancy King

Louellen Sibley

Ron Sequoio

Fausto Cleva

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Antonio Rovescalli

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Mathilde Castel-Bert

Alexandra Danilova

La Gioconda received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of John Ardoin in the April 1962 issue of Musical America

No one in his right mind will try to tell you that "La Gioconda" is a deathless masterpiece. Still it hasn't been around for 86 years simply as a curiosity. Despite much of its crudity, it has a legitimate place in the opera house as a showcase for great singers and a battlefield on which they may vie against one another. In keeping with its special nature, the Metropolitan returned this old-fashioned, good-natured bundle of tunes to the repertoire with a galaxy of brilliant voices.

Making her debut as La Cieca was Lili Chookasian. She was greeted with a tremendous ovation after "Voce di donna" and with good reason-for the first time in many moons the Metropolitan can boast a true heroic contralto. Her voice is rich and all of a piece throughout. She can descend below middle C without going into chest voice and fill the house at the same time. Miss Chookasian's voice is big, and as beautiful as it is big - her musical intelligence was just as impressive. "Voce di donna" became a finely molded moment the way she sang it. The Metropolitan has found quite a treasure.

Franco Corelli sang his first Enzo in a bright red zouave costume. His acting was as poverty stricken as ever, and though he bawled out golden strands of sound, there was not the slightest line or sense to what he sang. Such a pity that so fine a voice is so poorly used.

The rest of the cast was familiar in their parts. Be it noted that this was an exceptional night for Zinka Milanov. Her middle voice sounded fresh and her lovely pianissimos floated with ease and beauty. Robert Merrill sang sublimely and Nell Rankin received an ovation for "Stella del marinar" which rivaled Miss Chookasian's first act reception.

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