[Met Performance] CID:204890

Il Trovatore
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, December 25, 1965

Il Trovatore (353)
Giuseppe Verdi | Salvatore Cammarano
James McCracken

Martina Arroyo

Count Di Luna
Robert Merrill

Irene Dalis

John Macurdy

Shirley Love

Dan Marek

Hal Roberts

Luis Forero

Thomas Schippers

Review 1:

Alan Rich in the Herald Tribune
“Il Trovatore” Has a New Leonora at the Met

Saturday night's "Il Trovatore" at the Metropolitan Opera, the ninth of the season, had no spectacular virtue or flaw. It served as an almost classic study, in fact, of the company's strengths and deficiencies on a routine night.

The one novelty was the first Leonora with the company by Martina Arroyo, the soprano who has won considerable praise here for her Butterfly and Aida. Miss Arroyo is, indeed, a talented singer, but her work this time gave the suspicion that she is being pushed ahead too quickly.

She had a great deal of trouble with the bel canto out of which this particular role is built, forcing her tones badly and showing a general insecurity, She was obviously suffering from the lack of rehearsal, which is the affliction that all late-season cast replacements must bear. But even so, one must question in general the wisdom of allowing so unseasoned a singer into so treacherous and specialized a role at this stage of her career.

It was also the first time this season that Thomas Schippers had conducted this opera. Mr. Schippers is a fine conductor of this repertory, but once again the effect showed of inadequate rehearsal. His tempi was very much faster than those of his predecessor this season, Georges Prêtre — in fact, he clipped nearly 20 minutes off of Prêtre's over-all timing — and in doing so he lost both solo singers and chorus several times during the evening. From what I could observe it was Schipper's fault, not Miss Arroyo's, that she got totally lost near the end of "Tacea la notte." And it was clearly his fault that some of the fioritura in Robert Merrill's "Il Balen" were turned into shambles.

James McCracken was the Manrico, hired — as most Manricos are — because he can do such brilliant things in "Di quella pira." But there is other music for Manrico to sing of a much more lyric nature, and here Mr. McCracken was in real trouble. His "Ah, si, ben mio" was punctuated by vocal explosions, as were most of his scenes with Azucena.

That role was taken by Irene Delis, and sung very uninterestingly, with a great deal of throaty forcing, ludicrous gesticulation, and an almost total lack of feeling for the Verdian line. Miss Dalis continues to impress these ears as one of the Met's most overused and overrated members. She is a vocal trickster, but not a singer.

On the more positive side of the routine there was the capable work of Mr. Merrill as the Count and the very musical work of John Macurdy as Ferrando. There was also some excellent orchestral playing, which Mr. Schippers always gets however faulty his musical ideas may be.

But it was still a routine performance. The Motley sets have become motley sets. The chorus, misdirected or undirected, wandered around with no zip that personified its wonderful music. And the score itself was, as usual, slashed to ribbons.

It is high time that someone realized that Verdi himself had some pretty good ideas about fashioning a dramatic opera, and that to eliminate an aria here, half of an aria there, and a lot of small but crucial details all over the place, is not to do Verdi at all.

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