[Met Performance] CID:213380

Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, February 2, 1968

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday

McCracken's Melodie Marathon [part 2]

Promptly at 8:10 on the following evening McCracken was back on stage, ready and able to hold his own against a wholly new group of associates. His singing of "Celeste Aida" was the best he has achieved in his first season in this role in New York, rather more relaxed and decidedly more atmospheric. It was, still, more penetrating than poetic, but the honorable intention was present and worthy of respect. In the temple scene, which he dominated as few tenors can, and the triumphal procession, McCracken's resources were more in keeping with Verdi's requirements than they had previously been. Perhaps he should make a practice of always singing Radames the day after something else, so that the full blast of his sound (with which he can literally exhale fortissimos) is tempered to the line with which he is concerned. The encouraging evidence is, however, that McCracken is making a serious, manful, and admirable effort to make himself master of his resources rather than remaining their servant, which always invites respect.

This "Aida" was mildly historic not only for its consistent surge and musical interest, but also for the responsibilities, on all levels, being entrusted to Americans. Very likely there have been prior "Aida"s in which all the principals have been native born; but has there been one previously in which not only all the singers, but the designer (Robert O'Hearn), director (Nathaniel Merrill), and conductor (Thomas Schippers) learned their trade domestically? While we await the inevitable refutations, the other participants in this absorbing performance may be identified: Martina Arroyo (in her best role, Aida), Irene Dalis (a forthright Amneris), Cornell MacNeil (a powerful Amonasro), Jerome Hines (an impressive Ramfis), Louis Sgarro (a sonorous King), Clarice Carson (a qualified priestess), and Robert Nagy (a messenger worthy of the message he conveyed).

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