[Met Tour] CID:221550

La Traviata
Masonic Temple Auditorium, Detroit, Michigan, Tue, May 26, 1970

La Traviata (563)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Pilar Lorengar

Enrico Di Giuseppe

Robert Merrill

Frederica von Stade

Charles Anthony

Baron Douphol
Robert Goodloe

Marquis D'Obigny
Gene Boucher

Dr. Grenvil
Louis Sgarro

Loretta Di Franco

Roland Miles

Peter Sliker

Ivan Allen

Skiles Fairlie

Jeremy Ives

Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Review 1:

Review of Jay Carr, Drama and Music Critic of the Detroit News

A routine 'Traviata' is staged by the Met

More than respectable, but less than remarkable. Such was the production of Verdi's "La Traviata" presented by the Metropolitan Opera last night at Masonic Temple. There was something to be said for all three principals - Pilar Lorengar as Violetta, Enrico Di Giuseppe as Alfredo, and Robert Merrill as Germont. Yet the evening pretty much clung to a level of routine competence.

Miss Lorengar improved considerably upon the bland impression she made here last time as the Countess in "Figaro." She is a singer of great cultivation. Actually, she does most of her acting with her voice, which she can swell or reduce with taste and control. Time and again she delivered a finely spun pianissimo and her vocal expressivity compensated for a rather limited theatrical range. Miss Lorengar's strength is a cool, brilliant top. Her high tones are both pure and secure. But all those high C's in the "Sempre libera" notwithstanding, the voice simply doesn't have the warmth of the ideal Violetta. Miss Lorengar is undeniably a lyric soprano of distinction. But in the dramatic dimensions of the role, she sounded overtaxed. Only from her "Addio del passato" on did she seem both spontaneous and convincing.

Enrico Di Giuseppe was being heard for the first time here with the Met, although as an alumnus of the bygone Met National Company he is no stranger to Detroit. His voice is on the small side in volume, but it is attractively colored and suitably lyrical, although a bit rough in texture. He partnered Miss Lorengar admirably in the duets and his acting was agreeably straightforward.

Robert Merrill's admirers must have been gratified by the ringing, full-bodied tone the veteran baritone poured forth as the elder Germont, but his phrasing was stiff and unimaginative and his stage deportment was wooden. In the smaller roles Frederica von Stade was a Flora who made her pursuers' passions seem credible, and Loretta Di Franco floated some alluring notes as Violetta's maid.

The conductor was the veteran Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. He is a practiced hand in the Verdi operas, and although he brought no special insights to the score, he was appropriately attuned to the ebb had flow of the lovely Verdian melodies. Alfred Lunt's staging made sense, too, and in John Butler's third act Spanish ballet it was nice to see some clowning that was, for a change, intentional.

This was the second time around for the Cecil Beaton production, and the sets and costumes stood up well, especially in the first and third acts. In both acts the partygoers were dressed with flair, and the sumptuous high baroque interiors were impressive, even in the scaled-down reductions the Met uses on the road. Violetta's bedroom still looks like an underground cavern, though.

There will be a big cast change when the Met presents Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" tonight at 8. Substituting for an indisposed Roberta Peters will be a young soprano from Mississippi named Gail Robinson. After study in Memphis, Miss Robinson moved up to the Metropolitan Opera Studio through the Met national auditions and just made her Met debut in January in Mozart's "Magic Flute.">/b>

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