Met broadcast stars Merritt

April 01, 1991|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

BALTIMORE TENOR Chris Merritt sang Arturo in the Metropolitan Opera Company's "I Puritani" (The Puritans) by Vincenzo Bellini in a live radio broadcast Saturday heard by millions in this country and overseas. It was his second outing as the cavalier in four days after missing the opening production March 21 with a sinus infection.

Judging from the broadcast heard on WBJC-FM, Merritt's strong voice can still reach the heavens, but the sound Saturday was not always heavenly. His two high D notes wavered in the luscious third act duet "Vieni fra queste braccia" (Come to these arms) with soprano Edita Gruberova. At some points his voice could have used less volume and more phrasing.

Merritt had two solos, "A te o cara" (To you, beloved) in the first act, and "Son salvo" (I'm safe, I'm safe at last) in the third act. Merritt sang these in a deliberate style that could be pleasing, especially in parts of "I'm safe," but at other times was metallic and inelegant.

Gruberova headed the cast as the occasionally mad Elvira with an agile, sweet voice that carried the production vocally. Her second act mad scene, a staple of the bel canto early 19th century Italian literature, was a model of lyricism, proper volume and clear, beautiful tone.

Richard Bonynge conducted the lush score (1835). Other principals were bass Paul Plishka as Georgio and baritone Paulo Gavanelli as Riccardo.

Merritt sings Arturo twice more, April 3 and April 18. He made his Met debut Dec. 3 as Idreno in Rossini's "Semiramide." Later this spring he sings in Rossini's "William Tell" in Geneva and Rossini's "Otello" in Pesaro, Italy and Chicago. Concerts are planned in Caracas, Venezuela and Japan.

Meanwhile, his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Coplan Merritt, has also been busy. During Holy Week, she sang six times in the choir at St. David's Episcopal Church here.

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