On Sunday 10th at 4pm to celebrate Verdi’s birthday we have his LA FORZA DEL DESTINO (2h50mins + interval).
Giuseppe Verdi’s drama of love and destiny in times of war remains one of the best known operas by this Italian master. In the Milan version of 1867 it has become an essential part of the repertoire of great opera houses, both in Europe and further afield. This DVD video recording, however, is quite distinct from the numerous other recordings available: the conductor Valery Gergiev has used the rarely heard original 1862 version, composed for St. Petersburg, and containing wonderfully dramatic scenes and arias later deleted from the Milan version. And furthermore, the stage set for this 1998 live recording in the Mariinsky Theatre recreates the original designs produced by Andreas Roller for the St. Petersburg premiere over 130 years ago.
‘This 'Forza' has the original ending that Verdi wrote for the opera's premiere performance at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre in 1862. In fact, it is performed in that same theatre, and if there are times when you wish the tenor _would_ leap to his death in the last act, then this might be the version for you.
Galina Gorchakova has an attractive, lyric soprano, perhaps a bit pinched on top but with a nice lower register. Her "La Vergine degli angeli" is clear and rapturous, and her soprano rises with ease over the heavier voices at the inn, and later at the monastery.
Gegam Grigorian is an unkempt, alcoholic Don Alvaro who sings with the weight of his past sins forever on his shoulders. When Don Carlos (Nikolai Putilin) taunts him into a rage, he is truly frightening. His portrayal makes it easy for us to understand why he threw himself off of the rather shaky cliff at the end of Act IV.
In just few short years, Valery Gergiev has risen from an obscure assistant at the Kirov to one of the most sought-after conductors in the opera world. We catch a brief, intense glimpse of him here, conducting the overture. His fingers tremble and stroke the air as though he were playing vibrato on his orchestra, but for all of his emoting on the podium, he leads the orchestra through a secure performance of the mad jumble of 'Forza's vengeful nobility, pilgrims, muleteers, war-mongering gypsies, brawling soldiers, and quarrelsome monks.
My favourite scenes in the production take place when the action moves out into the noisy, crowded inn, the monastery, the brawling army camp. The Kirov (Mariinsky) chorus gives us piety, patriotic ardour, the melancholy brought about by war and starvation, and even laughter. The comprimario roles are well cast and the singers paint minor masterpieces on a sprawling canvas. I never realized how truly 'Russian' this Italian opera could be until I watched and listened to the chorus on this DVD. Keep an eye for the gold-toothed monk!’’ Amazon.com reviewer
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