[Met Performance] CID:197180

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 8, 1964

Otello (146)
Giuseppe Verdi | Arrigo Boito
James McCracken

Leonie Rysanek

Robert Merrill

Janis Martin

John Alexander

William Wilderman

Clifford Harvuot

Robert Nagy

Robert Patterson

Nello Santi

Herbert Graf

Eugene Berman

Mattlyn Gavers

Stage Director
Patrick Tavernia

Otello received thirteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the February 22, 1964 issue of the Saturday


The first "Otello" of the Metropolitan season took up where last season's new production left off, and immediately took a trend in another direction. This was due to a mixture of elements in which James McCracken as Otello and Robert Merrill as Iago came to closer grips not only with the substance of their own parts but also with the problem of coordinating their actions as villain and victim. John Alexander, as Cassio, added a strong new voice to the totality, and Leonie Rysanek as Desdemonna showed every qualification - physical, dramatic, artistic - for the part, save the indispensable ability to control her vocal sound.

Withal, the crucial part was the one played by Nello Santi, who conducted. His reputation is, of course, in no way comparable (yet) to Georg Solti's, who prepared last year's revival, and he does not operate at such a level of nervous tension. However, his point of view on this score is both informed and discriminating, and he works productively with his singers rather than against them. And, unlike some conductors, who bestride the two horses - orchestral and vocal - of this vehicle as a pair of competitors, Santi kept a strong hand on each to produce the necessary forward impetus. In all, there was every reason to look forward with hope to the subsequent performance of the season, though it is improbable that Miss Rysanek can thin the wooly sound of her lower register, or give a brighter outline to her strong top than it now yields. As for the tacky sets: they show less and less credit for Eugene Berman.

Earlier in the week McCracken indulged in a kind of wind sprint for Otello by singing his first Manrico in "Trovatore." This is not a part that profits from the kind of power McCracken can summon at will, and he is lacking in the resources of bel canto which it demands. It is, at best, a means of employing his talents between "Otello"s0, or some other taxing role for which he is better equipped than other Manricos. He was hobbled on this occasion by a lame ankle and what sounded like a night of less than maximum vocal freedom, further restricting the impression he made in a cast with Leontyne Price, Mignon Dunn, and Mario Sereni. Thomas Schippers was the conductor.

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