Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
La Forza del Destino -
Opera in four acts (revised
Ziyan Atfeh - Il Marchese di Calatrava; Dimitra Theodossiou - Donna
Leonora; Vladimir Stoyanov - Don Carlo di Vargas; Aquiles Machado -
Don Alvaro; Mariana Pentcheva - Preziosilla; Roberto Scandiuzzi - Padre;
Carlo Lepore - Fra Melitone
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio di Parma/Gianluigi Gelmetti
rec. Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy, 2-5 February 2011
Sound Format: PCM Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround; Picture
Format: 16:9, 1080i; Region: ABC: Subtitles in English, German, French,
Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
Reviewed in surround.
C MAJOR 724504
[178.00 + 11.00]
This is part of the Tutto
series being issued by C Major, in conjunction with Unitel
Classica. Be warned that the unavoidable on-disc clip for the series
uses an extract from La Traviata
as soundtrack. Do not be misled!
As part of Tutto Verdi
the disc includes a very useful bonus
in the form of a short foreword to the opera and the history of its
composition. It introduces the characters as well as telling the story
via short clips from the performance. This is available with either
Italian or English narration. Whoever thought of this, well done! The
menu for the opera and the separate acts is only accessed after selecting
'Play Opera'. Not very intuitive. Why not put this at top level? The
booklet includes a good, short essay but a summarised libretto that
manages to not mention some scenes even though they are all detailed
in the track-listing. The playback defaults are surround - for a change
- and no subtitles. Having got all this out of the way we go to audience
noise for the opening titles, very good.
Before moving on to the production a word about the audio recording.
It has become quite noticeable on several recent discs that as a result
of live recording conditions all singers are miked up. This means that
their stage movements, obvious in the picture, are not reflected on
the audio. A singer moving left or right across the stage stays firmly
anchored to the centre along with all other members of the cast where
the post-production team placed them. Only the chorus and orchestra
are spread across because they are not individually miked. Considering
we have had over fifty years of stereo recording of opera with some
attempt at stage movement this seems like a step backwards. I can only
surmise that it is simply too difficult or uneconomic to pan the sound
for each individual and much easier to guarantee singer clarity on the
recording by adopting this approach. I have recordings made live at
Bayreuth in 1955 where the sound is more realistic than this modern
process allows and the great Decca/Culshaw Sonic Stage technique resulted
in many historic and extremely spacious opera recordings in the 1960s.
Watching a screen does take the ear away from such matters and in the
video picture as opposed to the stage picture, the key singers are nearly
always central. It would be interesting to know what the companies have
to say about this. That said, this issue sounds and looks very good
as do virtually all modern Blu-ray recordings.
La Forza del Destino
is a curious opera in that the libretto
is more than usually convoluted and the 'destiny' of the title comes
over as a series of bizarre coincidences. There are even scenes that
don't really have anything to do with the plot. This makes the producer's
job more important in aiding the audience to follow what is going on.
However, we live in an age of regietheater
. Stefano Poda, in
charge of direction, choreography and costumes has opted for a multi-purpose
stage that moves into different arrangements for the different scenes.
In Verdi's libretto the scenes are quite varied, Act 1 is in Leonora's
room, Act 2 in a village inn and outside a monastery, Act 3 a battlefield,
and so on. What we see is a stage full of impressively large interlocking
dark blocks, which are moved around for the different scenes. On that
stage are a cast clad in black and hard to distinguish, to the extent
that the two female leads look like identical twins. So we have black
stage with a cast in black, you see where this is going. We know they
are all doomed, that is for sure! Cast movements are as geometrical
as the scenery so there is an air of puppets controlled by 'destiny'.
The 1st Act is sung with more gusto than subtlety, but for a live performance
- derived from two evenings - it is certainly good enough to enjoy and
most of the opera is better sung. It is the blackness that disturbs.
Act 2 opens with a setting that is bewilderingly hard to understand.
It is in the libretto as the muleteers dancing but this is not how it
looks. Preziosilla's black dress looks so similar to Leonora's that
I can only assume this was part of the director's intention - both singers
are physically similar too which does nothing to clarify things. In
Act 3 the opening is dominated by a large black globe which Alvaro sets
to swing like a giant pendulum. Short of any directorial explanation
this made no sense to me. The confrontation between Alvaro and Carlo
takes place against a background of what appears to be a pile of dead
bodies but at the start of the final scene they rise to their feet and
become a very alive army. During the course of the remaining action
they fall and rise and fall again - all very confusing. The singing
of all this is good except for a rather wobbly Preziosilla. Act 4 starts
with the same black-dressed chorus on a black set save that for this
act no one is bloodstained. For a plot this complex something should
have been done to help the audience. Apparently it was well received
in Parma - the on-disc applause is prolonged but seems to me muted.
A decent enough performance in good sound and video but there are better
Blu-ray discs of La Forza
, for example that by Mehta at Florence.