Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times:
The curtain may have lifted three and a half months late, but nevertheless there was the feeling of a grand opening last night at the Metropolitan Opera. Downstairs and in the boxes almost everybody was in formal dress. People were thronged around the staircase, goggling at whatever great names appeared. Photographers and reporters were all over the place, and critics came in from all over the country, and young exquisites paraded up and down.
The opera was Verdi’s “Aida.” And, of course, the delayed opening had its special undercurrent. Only three weeks ago there were serious doubts in many quarters whether the Metropolitan Opera would open at all.
So there was a special thrill when, shortly after 8 P.M., the great curtain parted and quietly ascended…. No new insights were cast on Aida… and none was expected. Each of the principals was in good voice. Richard Tucker was a Radames with a manly, ringing voice. He was determined to sing, and sing he did. He even refrained from mouthing the words at the end of the second act, and his voice could be heard over orchestra, full chorus and the other principals.
Leontyne Price, too, used her big voice effectively, and also with a good deal of nuance. Her pianissimos and pianos on phrases like “Numi, pieta” or the end of “O patria mia” were in the tradition stemming from Rethberg and Milanov, and were as well handled as any soprano today can manage. Occasionally her tone veered to a near-stridency in full-voice passages, but never at the expense of expression. There was immense vocal authority to Miss Price’s Aida.
And so on down the line. Irene Dalis was a strong-voiced Amneris, and Robert Merrill all but shattered the chandeliers at his entrance as Amonasro. Even the minor roles were well sung, which has not always been the case. Certainly Raymond Michalski was as resonant a King as one would desire, and John Macurdy an imposing, clear-voiced Ramfiis.
Conductor Francesco Molinari-Pradelli led a clean, fast-moving Aida, one with no rhythmic mistakes and with a good deal of knowledge behind it. So the Metropolitan Opera is off. Some of the glamour may have been taken off the season, and some eagerly awaited new productions have been dropped/ But there “is” a season.
Born on this day in 1876 cellist and conductor Pablo Casals.
Born on this day in 1918 soprano Mado Robin.
Birthday anniversaries of composers Tomás Bretón (1850) and Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912), baritone Jules Bledsoe (1898) and tenor Kolbjörn Höiseth (1932).