> VERDI La Forza del destino Marinuzzi [CG]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Giuseppe VERDI (1913-1901):
La Forza del Destino (complete)
Donna Leonora - Maria Caniglia (soprano)
Don Alvaro - Galliano Masini (tenor)
Don Carlo di Vargas - Carlo Tagliabue (baritone)
Padre Guardiano - Tancredi Pasero (bass)
Preziosilla - Ebe Stignani (mezzo-soprano)
Fra Melitone - Saturno Meletti (baritone)
Il marchese di Calatrava - Ernesto Dominici (bass)
Curra - Liana Avagrado (soprano)
Mastro Trabucco - Giuseppe Nessi (tenor)
Un alcade - Ernesto Dominici (bass)
Un chirurgo - Ernesto Dominici (bass)
Turin Chorus and Symphony Orchestra EIAR, Turin/Gino Marinuzzi
Recorded in 1941 (ADD)
NAXOS 8.110206-07 [2 CDs: 2:33:39]
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The recording here reissued was the first of Verdi's "Russian" opera (written for St Petersburg in 1862). It is, as recorded, an account of the familiar 1869 revision which Verdi made for La Scala.
The whole "Sleale" scene for Alvaro is cut and standard omissions of the time are observed - but nothing like the wholesale butchering which was practised at the Metropolitan during the 1950s. As will be clear from the timing given above, this is a reasonably full version of the score.
An important point, as Gino Marinuzzi's conducting during the choral and ensemble scenes is one of the recording's strong points. Never wayward or self-referentially extreme, Marinuzzi nonetheless brings both dash and discipline to portions of the score which frequently go for little, thus making evident the "Shakespearean" character of this variegated piece which was so important to the composer.

But this is an opera, not a symphony, and Marinuzzi would never have achieved his goals without the splendidly inventive, yet faithful, interpretations of Meletti, Stignani, and Nessi (surely the least irritating, most charming Trabucco on disc). Since the Inn Scene, so frequently cut altogether, is included here, Stignani in particular is able to display her skills, not least an easy top C (though she blithely omits all Preziosilla's written trills).

To the principals. Forza (pace Rosa Ponselle) is in large part a tenor-baritone score. When the "Sleale" scene is included, they have three large-scale scenes together. Here Masini and Tagliabue provide contrast more than complement. The tenor gives what might be termed a visceral interpretation, commanding and often thrilling (especially on high) but also complete with line-bumping sobs in "Solenne in quest'ora" and "Invano, Alvaro." Tagliabue on the other hand, though without the native brilliance of tone and natural vocal intensity of Masini, gives a cultivated and often subtly-phrased account of his role. Those whose standard for the role is Warren or Merrill will find in Tagliabue less to thrill but much to absorb. Tancredi Pasero, with his flicker-vibrato, does complement Meletti in their last act scene together and gives an altogether splendid rendering of the Father Guardian.

For many Maria Caniglia's will prove the most controversial interpretation of the recording. Serafin once told her, "You have a top, but it is not your glory." He was right. In the theatre the spaces would have lent shading to her upper tones, but the 1941 microphone is monochromatically merciless in exposing the shrillness and unsteadiness that often afflict her. Still, few will dispute the effectiveness of Caniglia's middle register, or her often striking chest tones, or her intense reading of the line and attention to words. Some may wish to take refuge in the easy, shimmering top notes of a Leontyne Price, but Caniglia, according to her means, gives a striking performance of the tragedy-plagued Leonora.

This performance has been reissued several times during the CD era, often in inexpensive editions. One cannot vouch for the sources of all these but it is a safe bet that some of them at least derive from Cetra's old LP edition.

To that extent, the Naxos issue provides a clear alternative. It has been taken from two sets of the original 78s and restored with the typical loving care of Ward Marston. Those familiar with some of the other editions will at once notice differences. Here the pitch has been made correct and consistent. Though the vocal presence of the singers may be less blatant, it benefits (Masini's already bright instrument in particular) from the more mellow reproduction achieved here.

I have only two negatives: Masini's "Signor di Calatrava!" in the first scene has been carelessly allowed to be repeated, a jarring effect, and there is occasionally too little time between the end of one 78 side and the start of another, spoiling to a degree the otherwise natural progress of the performance and, ironically, reminding us that this is, after all, a collection of 35 individual parts - something which the performance itself often belies.

The booklet includes an essay on the opera and the recording, a detailed synopsis cued to the tracks, and an interesting note on the dates and circumstances under which the recording was made.

Calvin M Goodwin

Few will dispute the effectiveness of Caniglia's middle register, or her often striking chest tones, or her intense reading of the line and attention to words. see Full Review


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