Friday, September 13, 2013

One Verdi Opera a Day: Aroldo, Un ballo in maschera, La forza del Destino

Verdi looking Russian
Continuing with my listening to one Verdi opera a day, in chronological order, in honor of the composer's bi
Caruso in Un ballo inmaschera

Aroldo Frncesco Maria Piave  1857  Rimini

Montserrat Caballe, Gianfranco Cecchele, Juan Pons, Vincenzo LaScola, Luis Lehbrez; Opera Orchestra of New York/Eve Queler

Verdi was disgusted with the Franco-Austrian censors and disappointed that some of the public disapproved of Stiffelio. A Protestant pastor and a German no less! The music was too good to waste, thus Aroldo. Aroldo moves the action to medieval England and Scotland-medieval British more tolerated than 19th century German protestants?-The music is not the same, the plot is very similar. If you know and like Stiffelio, Aroldo is well worth a spin. I've never heard Aroldo performed live. The above cited recording is great, but cut. Seek out Fabio Luisi's more recent recording on Philips.

Un ballo in maschera  Antonio Somma 1859 Rome

Maria Callas, Giuseppe DiStefano, Tito Gobbi, Eugenia Ratti, Fedora Barbieri. La Scala/Antonino Votto 

First of all, where are you? Late 18th century Sweden or Colonial Boston (God bless us and spare us). The assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden at a Masked Ball is the basis for this opera. So far, we've met a lot of great Verdi women: Elena/Helene, Giselda, Abigaille, Lady Macbeth, with a lot more to come. Ballo for me is the tenor's opera. Go ahead, laugh. Gustavo is written to well display a strong lyric tenor voice. I always loved Pavarotti in this opera.

 And this sparkling bit for Oscar is effective against the dark plotting of Renato and the assassini

La forza del destino  Francesco Maria Piave  1862 St. Petersburg

Renata Tebaldi, Mario delMonaco, Ettore Bastianini, Cesare Siepi,

Imperial Theater, St. Petersburg
Oh, the singers ho used to perform this opera and oh, the paucity of them today! I hadn't listened carefully to Forza in a long time. It's sprawling, yes and there are a fee moments of crowd painting you could miss-but the tenor/baritone duets!



Leonora's three arias-the scene with Guardiano, and the final trio! If you listen to this closely it will stay with
you for days. I'm not familiar with the score as given at the premiere, only the changed version now performed. This is a heavyweight big/boy big girl opera. Thrilling.

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