[Met Performance] CID:286440

Roméo et Juliette
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, November 6, 1986

Debut : Cecilia Gasdia, Christopher Trakas

Roméo et Juliette (275)
Charles Gounod | Jules Barbier/Michel Carré
Alfredo Kraus

Cecilia Gasdia [Debut]

Frère Laurent
Paul Plishka

Hilda Harris

Brian Schexnayder

John Freeman-McDaniels

Geraldine Decker

Dimitri Kavrakos

Allan Glassman

Christopher Trakas [Debut]

Philip Booth

Duke of Verona
Andrew Wentzel

Plácido Domingo

Paul-Emile Deiber

Rolf Gérard

Lighting Designer
Gil Wechsler

Milko Sparemblek

Stage Director
Fabrizio Melano

Roméo et Juliette received ten performances this season.

Revival a gift of Mrs. William S. Lasdon

Review 1:

Andrew Porter in the New Yorker

Recent visits to the Met have revealed entertainments that had little to do with opera as a serious art form. There was this five-act play in which an old gentleman with a little ginger mustache — old but still spry — picked up a pretty young girl at a dance; and later we saw them tumbling about in bed together. The Juliet — the piece was billed as Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" — was Cecilia Gasdia, making her Met debut. She was efficient but rather charmless. Her voice seemed small and monochrome; it was admirably focused and steady, and so always audible, but there was no sparkle in the sound. She essayed no trills and therefore was not yet technically equipped for Gounod's music, in which trills are important. In appearance, Miss Gasdia resembles Adelina Patti — clear brow, strong profile, wide-set eyes, firm chin, lustrous hair — but she lacks the vivacity of countenance that shines in every Patti portrait, and lacks, too, the vivacity of phrasing heard in every Patti record; her rhythmic sense was weak. Her repertory laps Patti's with Gilda, Violetta, Juliet, Bellini's Amina. Patti also sang Aida, Leonora in "Il Trovatore," Valentine in "Les Huguenots." It is difficult to imagine Miss Gasdia filling those roles. But she is young: twenty-six. Her voice may well gain body and brightness. There's good material there. The elderly Romeo was Alfredo Kraus. On the opera stage, voice and art can often conspire to deceive the eye, transforming a drab, bulky soprano into a youthful goddess and a staid, portly tenor into an ardent lover. Mr. Kraus's voice is well preserved, but its timbre was often thin and bleaty. He knows how to phrase, and so people acclaim him as an artist. A real artist engages with the performers around him, while Mr. Kraus seemed to be giving his polished performance in a vacuum. One couldn't altogether blame him, since Romeo's chums and adversaries — Mercutio and Benvolio, Tybalt and Paris — were a clumsy gang, blunt in their manners and blunt in their pronunciation of French. (The stage direction was credited to Fabrizio Melano, but there was no evidence that he or anyone else had given thought to the characters and the drama. Paris's reaction to his bride's apparent death — face blank, eyes fixed on the conductor to be cued for his line "Juste Dieu!" — was like something in a grand-opera skit.) Mr. Kraus understandably dissociated himself from them. Less pardonably, he showed no signs of being in love with Miss Gasdia. In the pit, another tenor, Placido Domingo, was conducting. He was attentive to his colleagues, but his reading had none of the grace and energy that, last season, Sylvain Cambreling brought to Gounod's score.

Review 2:

Ivan Martinson in the Village Voice

I missed “Romeo et Juliette” last year, when it was given with two singers in the prime of their careers, Neil Shicoff and Catherine Malfitano. This year's first performance had a very old one, Alfredo Kraus, and a very young one, Cecilia Gasdia in her Met debut. Kraus, inexplicably, has become popular with Met audiences and management only now, when his voice has lost the serene velvet that was once his specialty and when he yields too often to the temptation to squall a tolerable, unexceptional high B with rough, barking edges — a Mauro B, a Corelli B, not a Krauss B — in order to produce an ovation. He sang a passable Romeo, but I hate to encourage bad habits — his, the audience's, the management's in giving him this young man's role.

Gasdia whom I had not heard before puzzles me. Her voice does not sound fully formed or well supported. Long lines over heavy orchestra wring her dry. The sound itself is too thin for heavy Verdi but not sweet enough for bel canto. Her coloratura would have been striking 20 years ago and is far better than, say, Cotrubas. None of her defects prevented her scoring a successful debut. This was due to a dramatic intensity far beyond the ordinary. Not only is she a passionate actress, but she points words vocally to great effect. This could bring her to a major career — but with her awkward technique, her flawed vocal production, is she ready for one?

Except for Brian Scheyxnyder, a mellifluous Mercutio, the rest of the cast were ciphers. Placido Domingo was not at all bad in the pit.

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