I tried to get a ticket to the March 4, 1960 Forza, but was unable to.
With a cast the likes of Tebaldi, Tucker, Warren, it sold out
immediately. In retrospect, I'm glad I wasn't there. What a horrible
thing to behold. I was at the aborted prima of Makropoulos last
season, when tenor Richard Versalle (?) died on stage, and the sight of
it will haunt me til my dying day.
Back to Warren. I had been fortunate to have seen him in Boccanegra
just three days before the tragic Forza, and he sang magnificently,
although I do recall thinking that he was holding back just a bit in
the real declamatory moments. "E vo gridando pace, e vo gridando amor".
He sang the high lying notes (up to F#) sort of half voice, and
although it was a beautiful sound, I thought it out of place at this
most dramatic passage. Otherwise, he was brilliant. I had seen Warren
many times in many roles, such as Rigoletto, Tonio, Traviata,
Trovatore, Gioconda, Macbeth, Tosca, and many more. I always found him
to be a truly great baritone, and a fine actor.
I'm sure he could have sung for at least 10 more years but for his
premature death. He is still missed today by opera lovers everywhere-
especially those of us that were lucky enough to have seen him live.