There are only three things certain in this world: death, taxes, and the Metropolitan Opera. The stellar organization is paying its annual visit to Boston this week, and if opening night is any indication, local opera lovers are in for better singing and a more exciting spectacle than ever before.
Aida has had her face lifted. The stunning new decor and costumes by Rolf Gerard, and the dramatic staging of Margaret Webster demonstrate that Broadway techniques can effectively be applied to grand opera. The height of voluptuousness came in the first scene of Act Two. Blanche Thebom may not be the world's most beautiful Amneris, but when I saw her lounging on her divan being fanned and bathed by dozens of slaves, I couldn't help wondering why Radames chose the rotund Aida instead.
Zinka Milanov has a rich, compelling voice, but she was too big and too awkward for a believable Aida. The really outstanding principal in this production was Mario Del Monaco. His Radames was always exciting. Not only can be act, but also his full-bodied tenor voice (especially in "Celestc Aida" where he hit the fabulous B-flat without a tremor) shows training and power.