[Met Performance] CID:197820

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, April 4, 1964

Review 1:

Review of Martin Bernheimer in the April 18, 1964 issue of the Saturday

DESDEMONA has always been one of Renata Tebaldi's most congenial assignments. In it her basically placid temperament is, if anything, an advantage; also, the role fluctuates gracefully between the lyric and dramatic categories, just as her vocal resources do. It is no coincidence that Tebaldi chose this as her debut vehicle at the Met back in 1955, and was chosen to repeat it in the company's new "Otello" last year - that is, before she retired temporarily from the scene.

Returning to the role in the penultimate "Otello" of the season, Tebaldi proved that the recent changes in her vocal modus operandi are, for the most part, in Desdemona's favor. To be sure, the extreme top notes now present problems. Loud ones tend to emerge metallic and edgy, soft ones flat and thin. And the soprano's acting technique still relies primarily on statuesque poses, ravishing smiles, and choreographic overuse of those beautiful hands. But such matters turned out to be of minor importance.

The "new" Tebaldi's lighter, more poised tone is singularly appropriate in conveying girlish innocence, and her heightened attention to textual detail brings meaning to passages that used to be attractive by virtue of beautiful sound alone. Best of all, Tebaldi now commands a cleaner, more even line than before. In general, the present necessity for vocal caution seems to have brought with it a certain degree of artistic restraint; as far as Desdemona is concerned, this is all to the good.

Tebaldi's restraint also made her an excellent foil for the Otello of James McCracken, which took on added passion - and pathos - I n her company. Anselmo Colzani's Iago, however, lacked sufficient conviction and subtlety to hold up his end of the triumvirate.

Search by season: 1963-64

Search by title: Otello,

Met careers