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Subject: More on Forza at the Met
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Mon, 22 May 2017 22:10:56 -0400
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I did some spot checking on some Met broadcasts of "Forza" starting in 1943, with the 
revival under Bruno Walter.  (Forza was not performed at the Met between 1935 and 1943.)  
The review of the opening night of the 1943 performance notes that the Met was using the 
German performing edition by Franz Werfel and that the overture was placed after the first 
scene, so that particular practice obviously started pre-Bing.  Checking the broadcast, the 
1943 performance includes the Inn Scene but omits the "Sleale!" duet, the act moving 
directly from "Egli e salvo" to the Camp Scene and ending with "Rataplan!"  

As has been noted, during the Bing years the overture followed the opening scene and the 
Inn Scene was always omitted.  The "Compagni" chorus and the "Sleale" duet were usually 
performed but the placement varied: in the 1952 and 1956 broadcasts "Sleale" comes 
before "Rataplan!" but in 1960 it ends the act and the "Compagni" chorus precedes the 
Camp Scene.  in 1954 we get "Compagni" before the Camp Scene but both "Sleale" and 
"Rataplan" are cut.  (Was "Sleale" cut to accommodate the tenor, Gino Penno?)   "Rataplan" 
is also cut in the 1972 broadcast, possibly because it was beyond Nedda Casei's ability to 
bring off. 

Starting in 1975, the "Sleale" duet regularly follows the Camp Scene and ends Act III.  The 
Inn Scene is also restored, although the little "Compagni" chorus before Alvaro's recitative 
preceding "Sleale" is apparently always omitted.  

Pre-1943 (the earliest Forza broadcast), it is possible to infer from some of the reviews 
which scenes were performed and which were cut.  A March 1919 review from Philadelphia 
(where the Met performed one night a week) suggests that the "Sleale" duet was omitted, 
because in reviewing Caruso's performance, the reviewer specifically mentions "O tu che in 
seno" and the "Solenne in quest'ora," and "Le minaccie" duets with the baritone, but no 
mention is made of the "Sleale" duet, which if included would surely have been mentioned.  
On the other hand, Caruso did record the duet with De Luca, so....  The Inn Scene is 
specifically mentioned in several reviews, so that scene appears to have been performed, at 
least intermittently, from 1918 until the Berman production under Bing.  A 1926 review 
from Cleveland mentions that the overture was played "between the first and second acts" 
(scenes?).  So this practice apparently dated back quite a ways.

Regarding the "Sleale" duet, a review of a tour performance in Baltimore in 1928 mentions 
that the third act "includes the intensely dramatic moments between [Alvaro and Carlo] 
when their real identity is disclosed."  Is this a reference to "Sleale?"

The opera apparently was restaged for the revival in 1930, but the only oddity noted was 
that the "Rataplan" chorus was sung by an octet of women rather than as a solo for 
Preziosilla!   

So, the performing editions of "Forza del Destino" at the Met have varied considerably over 
the years.  We should be grateful that at least we now get the Overture in its proper place!

MDW
 

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