[Met Performance] CID:201240

Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, February 12, 1965

Debut : Maria Kouba

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the February 27, 1965 issue of the Saturday

Kouba's Salome

The carefully adjusted values of the Metropolitan's new production of Salome were put into a new perspective by the time of its third performance. Almost everything about it was the same except the replacement, in the title role, of Birgit Nilsson by Maria Kouba, a new-comer from Austria not previously heard here. She gave a courageous and resourceful performance within the range of her talents, but these are so special - where a theater of the Metropolitan's size is concerned - that the appeal was more for the eye than to the ear.

That is to say, Miss Kouba fulfils the first half of the classic formula for success as Salome, but not the second. She is slight enough and sufficiently mobile to suggest the adolescent, physically, but she is far from possessing the voice of an Isolde. What she has is a bright, lean, and rather wiry sound which she used skillfully to suggest the willfulness of the character. However, she appeared to be employing maximum volume for even mezzo-forte moments, which left her lacking in substance when challenged by Strauss's orchestral climaxes. The best of her sound is in the range up to A, which brought on a lunge rather than an attack on the occasional, but important, tones above. Something came out, but it was hardly a musical sound.

Her action, including a rippling dance in the Near Eastern equivalent of a bikini, was well planned and she was never at a loss for some bit of pantomime or movement to occupy the attention. Doubtless Miss Kouba could make an effective presentation of the role in one of the smaller Continental theaters (especially if a restricted orchestra is utilized). For the Metropolitan the voice is several sizes small for such a prominent part, in such a heavily orchestrated score. She might, however, have considerable utility in some of the wide range of lighter roles she has sung abroad. The head of Jokanaan looked as it had before, but the voice this time belonged to Walter Cassel rather than William Dooley.

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