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Parma  Verdi Festival 2010 - Il Trovatore: Soloists, Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio di Parma. Conductor: Yuri Temirkanov. Verdi Festival 2010, Teatro Regio di Parma. 18.10.2020 (JMI)

New Production Teatro Regio di Parma in coproduction with Teatro La Fenice di Venezia.

Direction: Lorenzo Mariani

Sets and Costumes: William Orlandi

Lighting: Christian Pinaud

Manrico: Francesco Hong

Leonora: Teresa Romano

Azucena. Mzia Nioradze

Conte di Luna: Claudio Sgura

Ferrando: Deyan Vatchkov

Ines: Christina Giannelli

Ruiz: Roberto Jachini Virgili

During the last four years Parma has dedicated the month of October to the Verdi Festival and I haven’t missed one yet. During October, Verdi is omnipresent in Parma, with posters of the Festival in every window shop, and some of them displaying costumes from past productions at the Festival. At the Piazza Garibaldi, in the heart of downtown Parma, gorgeous pictures from last year’s production of Nabucco dominated the scene.

This year, however, the Festival is started things off with some bitter controversy after the premiere of
Il Trovatore on October 1. Aficionados know the temperamental character of the members of Parma’s "loggione", particularly at premieres. Their reaction can decide over a triumph or failure, when they unlease a storm of sonorous booing. The latter is precisely what happened on October first, which brought about the decision of several artists to leave the production. The controversy had at its core the behaviour of the loggionisti and there were pages written about it. Some attacked them and others criticized the organization of the Festival. The most important opera singer from Parma, Michele Pertusi, attacked the Direction of the Festival for organizing a commercial and not an artistic event, defending at the same time the loggionisti, who—in his words—pay twice for the opera, first at the box office and again through their taxes, and that they have the right to react to what they get. A Trovatore continues Pertusi —that heavily cuts the score and doesn’t repeat the cabalettas cannot be considered an artistic event. A little more oil was poured into the fire a few days later, at the premiere of I Vespri Siciliani.

The stage production was by Lorenzo Mariani, who offers a highly traditional work of very little interest. It is a kind of minimalist production with an undulating floor, with an ever-present Moon and some stage props of more than dubious taste. A statue of a white horse in the second scene, a silhouette of a castle in Castellor and a bridal chamber surrounded by large candles are not very appealing. The final scene, totally bare, looks more suited to the last act of
Manon Lescaut. Lots of helmets, swords and cuirasses complement the stage. Acceptable, perhaps, for very nostalgic people.

Russian conductor Yuri Temirkanov has earned plenty prestige and experience and can be rightly considered as one of the top conductors of the last 50 years. His performance was received with some boos at the premiere, but he may have been a victim of collateral damage because the reaction was quite the opposite direction at subsequent performances. I was not convinced by his reading which I found more academic than truly moving, which is not what I expect from a great conductor in Verdi. Not deserving of any booing, but not a terribly successful reading of Verdi’s score, either. The orchestra and Choir offered a good performance under his baton.

Manrico was portrayed at the premiere by Marcelo Alvarez, while the second run of the performances were supposed to be played a young and almost unknown tenor named Antonio Coriano. In the end Manrico was the Korean tenor Francesco Hong. The best part of his voice is in the top notes, while the rest of the voice is of a much lesser interest. He started cautiously, being particularly flat in "Ah, si ben mio", to offer a powerful “Pira”, performed with only one verse. From there on he was more focused and he was fine fettle in the last act.

Norma Fantini also had problems at the premiere and she cancelled afterwards. Teresa Romano, who was announced as Leonora in this performance, took Fantini’s place when she cancelled. This young soprano (25 years) has two completely different voices. Her middle range is rich, beautiful and she knows how to use it. There are not many sopranos with such a remarkable voice. Unfortunately, the high notes are a different story, mostly shrill and shouted, truly unpleasant, even if she escapes from them as much as she can. I thought of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Russian mezzo soprano Marianna Tarasova was soundly booed at the premiere as Azucena and she, too, left the production for the rest of the run. Her replacement in this performance was Mzia Nioradze, who went away with neither pain nor glory. Her voice is good in the middle, rather artificial down below and a tricky instrument at the top.

Italian baritone Claudio Sgura is fast making a brilliant career for himself. The voice delivers exactly what is expected from a Verdi baritone, which is already an important asset. His performance was not particularly inspired, though, particularly his flat rendering of "Il balen”. Ferrando was sung by the young Bulgarian bass Deyan Vatchkov, a good singer with a small voice.

Teatro Regio was sold out for this performance (October 18th), too, and the audience was not really tough on anyone. On the contrary, they applauded each of the arias and cabalettas, particularly Mr. Hong’s La Pira. At the final bows artists were greeted with a very warm reception, particularly Hong, Sgura and Maestro Temirkanov.

José M Irurzun


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