[Met Performance] CID:208490

La Traviata
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, November 12, 1966

Debut : Virginia Zeani

La Traviata (508)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Virginia Zeani [Debut]

Bruno Prevedi

Robert Merrill

Marcia Baldwin

Charles Anthony

Baron Douphol
Ron Bottcher

Marquis D'Obigny
Gene Boucher

Dr. Grenvil
Louis Sgarro

Karan Armstrong

Lou Marcella

Peter Sliker

Patricia Heyes

Ivan Allen

Howard Sayette

Georges Prêtre

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday


If the temptation is strong to refer to the Metropolitan's new soprano as Violetta Zeani, it is not because one does not know that her name is Virginia Zeani. Rather it is because she has sung the leading role of Verdi's "La Traviata" nearly 600 times since she made her debut in the part in Turin in 1948, the latest being her first at the Metropolitan.

This, to be sure, is assurance of a certain enviable kind of professionalism, which was in evidence from the moment the curtain went up. Miss Zeani wore Cecil Beaton's beautiful black on white ball gown beautifully, and with her pile of dark hair around fair skin, she presented the likeness of as seasoned a well-reserved courtesan as one could ask.

However, when she began to sing, it was with rather less vocal color, quality, and variety than one might wish for. Miss Zeani has a clear conception of Violetta's character, and a sure command of the means to convey it, visually. Audibly, however, it tended to the edgy and nearly harsh, with rare indication that the voice still possessed a sheen. Much if not all of this, may be tolerated in exchange for absorbing characterization; but not, also, her inability to articulate the turns and involutions of the vocal line in the lower range. There was still the possibility that Miss Zeani might be one of those Violettas who is vocally more at ease once the first act is behind her, but the same traits were as evident outdoors as in. Categorically, Miss Zeani is what is known as a "good artist," and she delivered an impersonation that was deft, charming, and always absorbing to watch, but the real quality of the voice must have been left somewhere back there among the hundreds of Violettas. We can only regret the Metropolitan management didn't see fit to have those between 200 and 300 sung here, rather than bring her to New York after she had done nearly twice that many,. The evening was, otherwise, too much as this "Traviata" has been before, with a vocally inept, dramatically immature Alfredo by Bruno Prevedi, an authoritative father Germont by Robert Merrill and chaotically non-stylistic musical direction by Georges Prêtre.

Photograph of Virginia Zeani as Violetta in La Traviata by Louis Mélançon/Metropolitan Opera.

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