I remember many happy evenings at the Met with the circa 1983 John Cox
production. I believe some of the complaints about the production when
new may have centered around some of the casting - Marilyn Horne who was
about fifty at the time was the matronly Rosina. The critics said that
she and Gabriel Bacquier, the Bartolo, looked like a squabbling older
married couple and not a doddering old fool and his mischievous teenage
Anyway, the last production was showing its age in some potentially life-
threatening ways. At one performance some years ago, Ruth Ann Swenson was
nearly crushed by a wall of the revolving set which collapsed as she was
about to sing "Una Voce Poco Fa". I believe she simply stepped to the
front of the stage and sang the aria while stagehands behind her busily
tried to repair the set...
Over the years the Met has kept having to repair the Zeffirelli "Boheme"
sets which still remain popular with audiences if not with critics and
connoisseurs. The first Zeffirelli "La Traviata" was actually a
production that originated in Paris with Catherine Malfitano which
utilized the sets from the Zeffirelli movie with Stratas. Many of the
materials were not built for long term wear and stage traffic and
storage. It evidently was in serious disrepair and that is why it had to
be replaced only after about a decade of use with what ended up being a
second (and I think with some changes a lovely) Zeffirelli production.
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