LA GIOCONDA:Ponchielli
Original Air Date: 02/03/1990
Santi; Dimitrova, Beccaria, Fondary, Toczyska, Plishka
The distaff side was definitely an Iron Curtain special, with both Dimitrova and Milcheva from Bulgaria and Toczyska from Poland. Beccaria replaced Pavarotti (who ended up never doing the part at the Met). I had seen DImitrova in Chicago not long before and was disappointed with her there, and she was the same at the Met. Fondary is an interesting singer, but not at the level of Manuguerra who has many of the same sensibilities. — This revival was originally scheduled for Pavarotti (he never did Enzo at the Met after all), and Beccaria is very short ration for a part that often featured Corelli or Tucker. I saw Dimitrova in both Chicago and the Met, and she was no more than B+. She had the right size voice, but not the right personality to make Gioconda memorable. Marton was much better. Toczyska, by contrast with Dimitrova, is not so gifted vocally, but she is a strong musician and dramatic presence and makes the most of what she has. An excellent second level Amneris in many venues in the 1980s and 1990s. Santi lets the work sprawl too much– Patane and Cleva (I had previously listed Molinari-Pradelli who does not have the opera at the Met or as far as I can see anywhere else ) are much more to the task at hand. Toscanini, Serafin, and Panizza all have double digit Met Gioconda totals. — This is a Pavarotti cancellation, and I had seen Dimitrova in Chicago the year before. In neither NYC nor Chicago did it count as one of her best roles. With the possible exceptions of Dimitrova and Toczyska no one else is much above replacement level. I love Gioconda, but this is not the cast. And a mini-Gioconda cast is one can well do without.

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