Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times:
The Metropolitan Opera opened its doors on its ninetieth season Monday night with a performance of Verdi’s “I Vespri Siciliani.’ Most of the singers were familiar, the exception being Placido Domingo in the role of Arrigo. And Mr. Domingo coped superbly. The part needs a good deal of vocal heft, which this tenor has, and a quality of animal excitement, which he also has. Mr. Domingo has come a good way these last few years, and he is now a very convincing actor. But he has also developed a vocal sob to go along with his acting, and he might well consider dropping it. Once a night, twice a night, fine; but not as a regular mannerism.
Mr. Domingo works beautifully with his admirable colleague, Sherrill Milnes, who was singing Monforte. There was a time when both singers were apt to bull their way through an opera. Now they have much more finesse and subtlety. Mr. Milnes was in especially good voice Monday night. Manly in bearing, sinister in appearance, mellow in sound, he was a dominating force in the production.
The Dutch soprano Cristina Deutekom sang the role of Elena a few times last season, and she is filling in this year for Montserrat Caballé, who is indisposed. Miss Deutekom is a slow starter – at least, she was Monday. At the beginning there was some obvious strain. But by the time she reached the last act, everything was under perfect control. She is not a singer of great temperament, and her portrayal of Elena was cool, to say the least. Her repertory of movement and facial expression is circumscribed. But the voice is lyric, flexible and capable of unexpected bursts of power. There also was a good enough technique to take care of the last act Bolero in easy fashion. Much better, indeed, than the singing of her predecessor in this showpiece.
As for Paul Plishka, he has a well-schooled bass, is a competent actor, and he was entirely convincing as Procida.
Born on this day in 1907 bass Nicola Moscona and soprano Jarmila Novotná.
On this day in 1982 the Larry Grossman / Betty Comden / Adolph Green musical A Doll’s Life opened on Broadway and closed after five performances.