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Subject: Bilingual Met Matters
From: Simon Rich <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Simon Rich <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 24 Nov 2008 09:45:17 -0500

text/plain (82 lines)

In regard to Ms. Lorengar's first Falstaff at the was during her 
debut season on 2/17/1966...the last season at the old house.
Courtesy of the Met Database.....

|Review of Raymond Ericson in The New York Times


"Mein siisser Sir John," Alice Ford sang to Falstaff in Verdi's opera at 
the Metropolitan Opera
last night. The incongruity of German in an Italian opera was occasioned 
by the substitution of Pilar Lorengar for the still-indisposed Elisabeth 
Schwarzkopf as Mrs. Ford. Miss Lorengar, the Spanish soprano who made 
her debut with the company last week, was apparently the only one around 
who could take over the role. The fact that she knew it only in German 
had to be accepted. Odd as it sounded, it was better than having to 
forego "Falstaff," which would probably seem like the miraculous opera 
it is even in Esperanto. And Miss Lorengar, handsome to behold and 
thoroughly at home in the part, had a fine warm voice for her music. She 
is restudying the role in Italian and hopes to be ready to sing it in 
that language at the next performance. (rest of excerpt omitted here)

|The debut of the Falstaff production was two years March of 

|As far as the Aida goes, I was at that performance on January 4, 
1963and my reminiscence is that besides Celeste Aida, Thomas sang at 
least part of the final scene in Italian..certainly the section 
beginning O Terra Addio. This is confirmed again by the review excerpt 
in the Met database:

|Review of Everett Helm in the Janaury 11, 1963 issue of Musical America

Jess Thomas sang his first Radames at the Metropolitan Opera Jan. 4. He 
was a last-minute replacement for Franco Corelli, whose plane flight 
from Europe had been delayed. Mr. Thomas made his debut earlier in the 
season as Walther in "Die Meistersinger," and had appeared as Bacchus in 
the Met's new "Ariadne auf Naxos." He had sung Bacchus the night before 
this "Aida," and that he agreed to sing Radames the next evening, and on 
very short notice, is commendable; that he sang the role so well is 

It was announced that, except for "Celeste Aida," Mr. Thomas would sing 
in German, the language in which he is most familiar with the part. 
(Most of his opera experience has been in Germany, and he had apparently 
not sung "Aida" in Italian in several years. He had been scheduled for 
his first Met Radames later in the season, by which time he would 
undoubtedly have completely relearned the role in the original 
language). In addition to "Celeste Aida," he sang the opera's [first] 
lines, some of the ensembles, and the final duet in Italian.

His first scheduled Aida, btw, was two weeks later on 1/18...with 
Nilsson..and on that occasion, I remember he sang completely in Italian.

The other multilingual performance (which, alas, I did not 
attend..wasn't going yet was on December 5, 1961 -- Galina 
Vishnevskaya's sole Madama Butterfly at the Met. Apart from Un Bel Di, 
she sang the role in Russian..with the rest of the cast singing, as 
usual, in Italian (Olvis, Vanni, Harvuot - Bing certainly didn't go out 
of his way to give her a stellar supporting cast).

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