Zum Konzert am 4. April 1967 in New York

New York Times, 5. April 1967

American Opera Presents ’Orfeo’

Original Vienna Version of Gluck Work Performed

For the final work in its season, the American Opera Society presented Gluck’s "Orfeo ed Euridice" at Carnegie Hall last night.
Wisely, it was given in the original Vienna version, which avoided the many accreations of the later Paris version, including considerable ballet music. For the purposes of a concert performance such as this, the tighter score proved a boon.The title roles were sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, with Lucia Popp as Amore and Veronica Tyler as the Happy Shade.

Sensitivity Compensates

The casting of a baritone as Orfeo is unusual, since the part nowadays is usually sung by a mezzo-soprano or contralto. (It is the second time this season Mr. Fischer-Dieskau has done such a singer out of a job; earlier he sang the contralto’s music in Mahler’s "Das Lied von der Erde" with the New York Philharmonic.)
Giving the German singer odd assignments is usually justified by the results, since he brings a special artistry to anything he does. This was more or less the case on this occasion.
In spots the baritone’s voice lacked the ideal breadth or nobility of tone, nor did it quite hold its own with Miss Schwarzkopf’s bright soprano in the Orfeo-Euridice duet. But Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s sensitivity to dramatic inflection and the general beauty of his singing more than compensated for these weaknesses.
Like the baritone, the other singers provided the theatrical element of the evening. Miss Schwarzkopf’s singing did not have much line, because of the soprano’s tendency to certain notes at the expense of others, but she delivered her recitatives with a kind of tremulous excitement that was appealing.
Miss Tyler won a spontaneous round of applause for the lovely singing of her ecstatic second-act aria, and Miss Popp was a quite cheerful, lively Amore.
It was natural that the singers should supply the most drama. But a little more drama from the chorus and orchestra would have been welcome.
Jonel Perlea, who conducted, chose a restrained, classical interpretation. It was devoid of sentimentality, moderate in tempos, flowing and graceful. He got some splendid singing from the chorus, some fine playing from the instrumental ensemble.
The latter, however, had an over-all opaque sound, where delicacy and clarity should have been the case. Much of Mr. Perlea’s conducting was ideal; a little more contrast, more light and shade in tempos and dynamics, would have enlivened matters. […]

Raymond Ericson

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