Buon di, buon di!
A friend asked me recently to search among some old programs and memorabilia
for information about a certain performance. While leafing through the
Metropolitan Opera Season Book of 1976-77, I noticed a striking headshot of a
heavily madeup woman, her hair coiffured in the Mary Tyler Moore style then
popular. It was Eva Marton!
I always manage to forget that the Hungarian diva made an unheralded Met debut
that season as a second-cast Eva in Die Meistersinger. Although one of her
performances was reviewed in Opera News, Marton appears not to have made much
of an initial impression. While I was not present at Marton's debut, it would
seem that the role of Eva Pogner was not the most suitable showcase for her
Marton returned to the Met in the 1978-79 season as Chrysothemis in Elektra.
While earning some favorable notices, her performance again failed to generate
the sort of delirious acclaim she would enjoy in future years. Marton was not
to decisively win over Met audiences until the 1981-82 season, when she
appeared with Birgit Nilsson in a celebrated revival of Die Frau ohne
Schatten. Finally, Marton scored the sort of success that established her as
a major New York star.
The case of Marton got me to thinking about other opera singers who didn't
always arrive with a bang at the Met. I'm not referring to artists-in-
development, such as James McCracken, Frederica von Stade, Paul Plishka, etc.
I'm talking about singers who started at the Met in leading roles but did not
Can you think of other examples of this phenomenon? Did these artists ever
achieve the sort of success they deserved and/or enjoyed in other venues?
What might account for this delayed response to a singer's merits?