[Met Performance] CID:196650

Don Giovanni
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, December 20, 1963

Don Giovanni (243)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Lorenzo Da Ponte
Don Giovanni
Cesare Siepi

Donna Anna
Ingrid Bjoner

Don Ottavio
Jan Peerce

Donna Elvira
Lucine Amara

Fernando Corena

Jeanette Scovotti

Theodor Uppman

Justino Díaz

Joseph Rosenstock

Review 1:

Review of Jay S. Harrison in Musical America’s The Music Scene
What I considered to be insidious rumors about the state of Leontyne Price's voice — I have heard whispers often and with disbelief — proved to be quite true at the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Verdi's "Il Trovatore," on December 11. She has taken on an unmistakable tremolo and a certain crackling shrillness in notes above G on top of the staff. Her Leonore, as a result, was a portrayal that was more a sketch than a triumph.

Understand, she is still one of the most wondrous singers currently on the scene, and even this lapse from grace does not diminish her position as a soprano of extraordinary beauty and sheen. But the point must be made that there is presently a lessening of her powers, which fact is sorrowful to note. Miss Price is a true diva, in all that word implies; thus even the slightest blot is cause for concern. I have no doubt that her immediate problems can be solved — they are not so serious as to be irreversible. But one wants perfection of a perfect artist, and Miss Price is all of that. Her momentary deficiencies, therefore, are not so much of a tragedy as a challenge to the artist to restore her former eloquence. That she can do it one doubts not; at best it may take a few months. But on this occasion, her Leonore was a shadow of its well-known grandeur.

The role of Manrico was sung by Richard Tucker, who had never before sung the part on any stage. From the start it was obvious that he has not mastered it fully, since there was a lack of focus to his singing and a hint of strain along the way. It was obvious, however, that it will not be long before he and Manrico assume the same identity. His tenor is precisely right for Verdi's demands and he can bend any phrase so that it fits tightly into the vagaries of the plot.

As for the remaining leads, Irene Dalis was a rather pale and unimaginative Azucena, while Robert Merrill seemed to have his vocal wings clipped as di Luna. I attribute this largely to the conducting of Thomas Schippers, who had never before done the work at the Met. As a rule of thumb, you can depend on the Schippers-Verdi combination to produce fairly spectacular results, but he let us down sadly where this rendition was concerned. His beat was choppy and tended to lop off phrase ends which in turn intimidated the singers. Also there was no passion to the reading nor meat to its orchestral sound. All around, then, it was a shaky evening — one of a long string the Met has been having this season.

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