[Met Performance] CID:237740

Metropolitan Opera Premiere (Bluebeard's Castle), New production (Gianni Schicchi)

Bluebeard's Castle
Gianni Schicchi
Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, June 10, 1974

Debut : David Reppa, Lawrence Klein, Fabrizio Melano

In English

Bluebeard's Castle (1)
Béla Bartók | Béla Balázs
David Ward

Shirley Verrett

Sixten Ehrling

Bodo Igesz

David Reppa [Debut]

Gianni Schicchi (64)

Gianni Schicchi
Frank Guarrera

Judith Blegen

Raymond Gibbs

Betsy Norden

Marcia Baldwin

Irene Dalis

Charles Anthony

Russell Christopher

Gene Boucher

Clifford Harvuot

Lawrence Klein [Debut]

Richard Best

Andrij Dobriansky

Herman Marcus

Edmond Karlsrud

Buoso Donati
Terry Allen

Sixten Ehrling

Fabrizio Melano [Debut]

David Reppa [Debut]

Béla Bartók

Translation by Chester Kallman
Bluebeard's Castle received two performances this season.
Original title: A Kékszakállú Herceg Vára.
Gianni Schicchi received two performances this season.

Bluebeard's Castle, New Production a gift of Francis Goelet
Gianni Schicchi, New Production a gift of the Corbett Foundation of Cincinnati

Review 1:

Review by Louis Snyder in the Christian Science Monitor


New York: The Metropolitan Opera, before taking off for a week of performances at Virginia's Wolf Trap Festival to be followed by a free outdoor series in New York City, has been doing innovative things at home.

On Monday evening, as its nonsubscription June Festival's final week began, the Met presented a new production of two one-act operas, Bela Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" in its first Metropolitan performance, and Puccini's comedy, "Gianni Schicchi," last performed by the company 16 years ago.

Both works are products of the present century. The same year, in fact -- 1918 - saw the premiere of the Bartok in Budapest, and the Puccini in New York as part of the trio of operas Puccini wrote for the Met. "Bluebeard," a highly introspective, two-character piece, has been slow of acceptance in the world's theaters; "Schicchi," a fast-moving melodious comedy, has been a hit from the first.

In mounting "Bluebeard's Castle," the Metropolitan has taken a calculated risk. Bartok's only opera presents its stage director - in this case, Bodo Igesz - with the problem of what to do with the bass Bluebeard (David Ward) and his new young wife Judith (mezzo Shirley Verrett) during a lengthy, deeply philosophical sung dialogue. For stage designer David Reppa, the setting - within Bluebeard's castle, or symbolically, within his mind and being - has offered opportunities for the use of the extraordinary developments in lighting and projection techniques, permitting the viewer to share visually the imagery conveyed (if not always comprehensibly) in Chester Kallman's English translation of the text.

For conductor Sixten Ehrling and the two singers, Bartok has composed music of great depth and beauty - a score that can stand by itself without theatrical trimmings, since it is, in essence, dramatically static. The Metropolitan orchestra soared with the ever-changing musical mood, and both Miss Verrett and Mr. Ward brought their roles the full measure of their vocal artistry. "Bluebeard's Castle." like Schoenberg's "Erwartung," though written with the stage in mind, may or may not belong in the opera house. Time, slow footed thus far, will eventually tell.

The new production of "Gianni Schicchi," staged by Fabrizio Melano, conducted also by Mr. Ehrling, with tasteful setting and costumes by Mr. Reppa, is considerably busier, to the eye, at least. The plot, which has its source in Italian legend and was used by Dante in "The Divine Comedy" - Inferno division - tells how the title character, posing as an already departed, wealthy Florentine, dictates in his stead a will, in the presence of grasping relatives. However, Schicchi himself becomes the chief beneficiary and at the end of the piece, Schicchi steps out of character, comes to the footlights, and hat in hand, begs (in English) the audience's indulgence for his rascality.

Either Mr. Melano or his sizable cast of "relatives" have thrown dramatic caution to the winds in portraying the fevered avarice of Buoso Donati's survivors. Such pushing, shoving, mugging, and fist-shaking hasn't been seen on the Met's stage for a long time. Fortunately Mr. Ehrling has kept the romp well in hand musically, and the ensemble of young American singers does well by Puccini's humorously intentioned score.

Frank Guarrera in the title role, Raymond Gibbs and Judith Blegen as the young lovers, Clifford Harvout as old Simone, and Irene Dalis as the testy Zita stand out as experienced performers in a cast which could use some tightening of stage discipline.

The double bill will be included in the Metropolitan repertory next season. Both productions have been made possible by gifts from private donors - "Bluebeard's Castle" by Frances Goelet, "Gianni Schicchi" by the Corbet Foundation of Cincinnati.

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