Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times:
Grand opera, temporarily absent from the Metropolitan Opera, returned there last night with the season’s first performance of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” and the simultaneous debuts of Leontyne Price and Franco Corelli. Grand opera means large scale, uninhibited, lusty opera, and that is what the customers heard.
Everybody sang out. Sometimes the singing was glorious, sometimes it was lacking in finesse, but at all times everybody was giving all he or she had. Thus nobody in the audience was bored. It was an exciting night.
The two debuts had been long awaited. Miss Price has sung here before, but more recently she has been having a triumph in opera houses throughout Europe. She has matured into a beautiful singer. Her voice, warm and luscious, has enough volume to fill the house with ease, and she has a good technique to back up the voice itself. She even took the trills as written, and nothing in the part as Verdi wrote it gave her the last bit of trouble.
She moves well and is a competent actress. But no soprano makes a career of acting. Voice is what counts, and voice is what Miss Price has. And it is not all florid singing on her part. In the convent scene she took some fine-spun phrases in a ravishing pianissimo. And her top is exceptionally secure. She does not lunge for notes, attacking them from underneath and sliding into them.
As for Mr. Corelli, in one respect he goes against the law of nature that decrees all tenors must be short. The Metropolitan includes, among his statistics, the fact that he is 6 feet 2 inches tall, and he weighs 180 pounds. He tops off this physical appearance with a handsome head-something of a cross between John Barrymore and Errol Flynn.
Can he sing, too? Well, it is a large-sized voice but not an especially suave instrument, and it tends to be produced explosively. It has something of an exciting animal drive about it, and when Mr. Corelli lets loose, he can dominate the ensemble. The nature of his upper register remains to be determined. He did take the D flat in the second act, but the ending of “Di quella pira” was transposed down, and he was unable to take the climactic note in one breath.
As a musician and an actor he did everything competently without ever being particularly imaginative about it. There is something about his work, however, that greatly excited the audience, pro and con. For at the end of the second and third acts, a scattering of boos was heard amid the cheers. The guess here is that Mr. Corelli could develop into an exceptional tenor, but his art does need some refining and polishing.
Born on this day in 1756 composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Happy 75th birthday dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Birthday anniversaries of composers Edouard Lalo (1823) and Jerome Kern (1885), baritone Hans Duhan (1890), conductor Joseph Rosenstock (1895) and soprano Ursula Schröder-Feinen (1936).
Born on this day in 1885 composer Jerome Kern.