[Met Performance] CID:193050

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, January 26, 1963 Matinee Broadcast

Fidelio (85)
Ludwig van Beethoven | Joseph Sonnleithner
Birgit Nilsson

Jon Vickers

Don Pizarro
Morley Meredith

Ernst Wiemann

Judith Raskin

Charles Anthony

Don Fernando
Ezio Flagello

First Prisoner
George Shirley

Second Prisoner
Calvin Marsh

Harold Sternberg

Karl Böhm

Herbert Graf

Horace Armistead

Stage Director
Hans Busch

Fidelio received seven performances this season

Review 1:

Review of Michael Brozen in Musical America
The Metropolitan Opera’s first “Fidelio" of the season (Saturday Matinee, Jan. 26) was on the whole a very successful affair. Beethoven's only opera is a curious and trying combination of a poor libretto and some of the most magnificent operatic music ever written. Its story is noble and of high ethical content, but the way it is presented, as a typical "rescue" story of the period, is without distinction, and at times outright banal.

The musical direction was in the very capable hands of Karl Boehm, who shaped the score into a thoroughly convincing whole, in which each component part — aria, duet, ensemble number — fell into its logical place and was related to what followed and preceded. The excellent cast filled this well-balanced structure with singing of high quality. Birgit Nilsson as Leonore sang as she apparently always sings: with consummate vocal technique and musicianship. If this great singer ever does have an "off" evening, I have never witnessed it, either in Europe or America. Her phrasing like her vocal control, seem entirely natural. Her rendition of the recitative "Abscheulicher!" and ensuing aria "Komm, Hoffnung" set the pattern for her whole performance: intense but never melodramatic.

Jon Vickers' Florestan was also of the highest quality. Seldom have I heard his recitative and aria ("Gott, welch Dunkel hier") — one of the most difficult tenor passages in all opera — so well sung, and with such clear diction. The part of Marzelline was taken by that superb musician Judith Raskin, whose clear, steady voice, beautiful phrasing and immaculate intonation make her singing a source of constant pleasure. Rocco was well sung by Ernst Wiemann, and Jacquino by Charles Anthony, whose voice was a bit harsh at the start but who improved, as the work progressed. Morley Meredith acquitted himself well as Pizarro: vocally excellent but lacking occasionally in inner tension. The choral parts were sung with spirit and precision, except for a few contretemps with the orchestra during the prisoners' scene at the end of Act I. The second-act finale — always dangerous from the standpoint of ensemble — was homogeneous, thanks to Boehm, who received a well-deserved ovation when he appeared on the stage after the final curtain. The omission of a certain amount of the spoken dialogue, it might be added, proved to be an excellent idea.

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