[Met Performance] CID:223480

La Traviata
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, October 31, 1970

La Traviata (572)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Joan Sutherland

Carlo Bergonzi

Robert Merrill

Frederica von Stade

Charles Anthony

Baron Douphol
Robert Goodloe

Marquis D'Obigny
Gene Boucher

Dr. Grenvil
Louis Sgarro

Loretta Di Franco

Lou Marcella

John Trehy

Patricia Heyes

Ivan Allen

Howard Sayette

Licia Albanese

Phyllis Curtin

Anna Moffo

Delia Rigal

Renata Scotto

Renata Tebaldi

Gabriella Tucci

Richard Bonynge

Lowell Wadmond, Chairman of the Board
During the onstage ceremony following Act II, Robert Merrill was greeted by eight of his celebrated Violettas: Licia Albanese, Phyllis Curtin, Anna Moffo, Delia Rigal, Renata Scotto, Joan Sutherland, Renata Tebaldi, and Gabriella Tucci.

Review 1:

Review and Account in Variety by Robert J. Landry

Robert Merrill, Stamina in a Baritone, Stars in 'Traviata' And At Opera Ball

The annual Opera Ball ($100 a head) of the Metropolitan Opera took place last Sat. (31) after the performance of "Traviata." The ball was historic because it honored one baritone (the Met has 24) for his quarter-of-a-century of warbling. Robert Merrill had begun as Germont pere in 1945, and was repeating. He had sung the role 64 times at the Met, over 500 times round the world. But Merrill is essentially hometown talent, originally a winner of a Met audition. (He's up in over 20 operas.)

It is hardly a discovery that talent is what the Met is selling (at $20 a seat down front), but Merrill night in the auditorium and the Merrill hop later on the Grand Tier reaffirmed that truism. Opera never puts its great names "above the title" (the composer is always the star), but otherwise the Met's stable of stars has to remind a trade observer of the stable at MGM when Louis B. Mayer was king.?

The ceremonial part of Merrill night came directly after the Flora's villa third act. First came the Met's prize-winner for curtain speech diction, Osie Hawkins, now an executive stage manager, but once an opera singer, and still pear-shaped. The big stunt was to bring together the Violettas who had sung in Merrill performances of "Traviata." There had been 16, of whom eight were present on stage. But first Hawkins named the missing eight, and explained why they were missing, namely, Mary Costa, Victoria de los Angeles. Dorothy Kirsten, Bidu Sayao, Eleanor Steber, Antonetla Stella, Virginia Zeani and Pilar Lorengar.

The Violetttas who did muster, and a fine lot of high style and coif was exhibited, included Licia Albanese. Phylis Curtin, Renata Tebaldi, Renata Scotto, Delia Rigal, Gabriella Tucci and that evening's Joan Sutherland. Add Anna Moffo, she of the recent rash of Italo films. The presence of so many prima donnas prompted Lowell Wadmond, the oil exec, speaking for the Met board, to quip that all these ladies had taken a lot of bad advice from Germont pere over the years, he presumed because the bad advice was so beautifully sung by Merrill.

Apropos the point of the Met's stars-in-depth repertory policy, "Traviata" was given the first three times this season with Teresa Zylis-Gara, the next three times by Miss Sutherland and the seventh time will use Miss Moffo. That the invariably sensational Joan Sutherland is not heard in season's firsts of "Lucia di Lammermoor" and "Traviata" attests the Met policy of passing the plums around.

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