Notes and Editorial Reviews
"...real blood is pounding through the veins of this production...Domingo stepped in at the nick of time to sing a role he was born to sing, and he does so with complete confidence, as if he’d always been slated for this production...Cossotto’s Azucena sweeps away everything in its path...José van Dam is a strong, authoritative Ferrando...[Karajan] simply pours his enthusiasm over the music."
Il Trovatore was always one of Herbert von Karajan's favourite operas. He conducted it at the very beginning of his career and his first studio recording in 1956 was made in Milan with Maria Callas and Giuseppe di Stefano, but "his" Trovatore really made its mark in the legendary performances given at the
Salzburg Festival in 1962, which formed the basis for this successful revival in Vienna. He once declared in an interview that what he loved about this opera was its archetypal human passions, its compression of highly dramatic situations into the smallest conceivable space and Verdi's genius for translating such situations into music.
This 1978 performance is steeped in scandal. Franco Bonisolli was originally cast in the lead role but abandoned the cast during a rehearsal where the public had been admitted entry, and, after throwing his sword at the conductor, left the stage in fury, to be later replaced by Domingo.
Karajan not only conducted the opera, but he was also responsible for the stage direction. The recording was very rarely broadcast and this DVD draws on the original tapes held by Austrian Television (ORF), extensively restored using state of the art technology. Thus this gem from the archives can now be enjoyed on DVD with enhanced sound and picture quality. Subtitles in English, German, French, Italian.
R E V I E W S:
"It would be hard at that time, let alone since, to find singers more suited to their roles … Domingo has never been the ideal tenor for 'Di quella pira', but every other part of Manrico's role is very much his territory as he once again shows, singing it in his absolute prime - try his introductory serenade. Cappuccilli as ever is a strong presence as Luna and, like his colleagues, gives his all for Karajan. Van Dam, singing formidably, is in his element as Ferrando. Karajan himself seems rejuvenated by the occasion, presenting the work with the raw, emotional drive it calls for. You are definitely present at a memorable evening at the Staatsoper" Gramophone on the original CD issue
"Originally televised live over Eurovision, here is an Il trovatore that shows its age a little, notably in the wandering camerawork and, at times in the quality of the picture. This hardly matters, though, because real blood is pounding through the veins of this production, and in spite of its faults, you’ll return to this DVD again and again, if you care about this opera. (And who doesn’t, among opera-lovers?) Franco Bonisolli had been scheduled for Manrico, but late in rehearsals he walked out because of vocal problems. Domingo stepped in at the nick of time to sing a role he was born to sing, and he does so with complete confidence, as if he’d always been slated for this production... Of course, Cossotto’s Azucena sweeps away everything in its path. Eye-popping and scenery-chewing, she steals the show...José van Dam is a strong, authoritative Ferrando...There is fine playing from the orchestra, but with this conductor on the podium, did you expect otherwise?
Georges Wakhevitch’s costumes are attractive, and the sets by Teo Otto are evocative without being overly literal. The staging is by Karajan himself. Typically for Karajan, there’s not a lot of movement on the stage, but he was a genius for making little things mean a lot. And that describes his conducting too. This is not one of those self-conscious Karajan performances in which ego and concern for sound per se overwhelm everything. Instead, he simply pours his enthusiasm over the music, while giving the nuances implicit in Verdi’s score their due.
The sound is excellent—the usual three formats are offered—and not overly processed; one gets a feel for the acoustics of the Staatsoper itself on these DVDs... The playing time of 151 minutes is long for Il trovatore, and the explanation is that there are curtain calls after every single scene. Nevertheless, why two DVDs were needed is unclear to me, as a single disc can accommodate even more material. Never mind: even with the extra outlay, and the minor technical faults mentioned above, you miss adding this exciting production to your collection at your peril!" - Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi
Piero Cappuccilli (Baritone),
Raina Kabaivanska (Soprano),
Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Fiorenza Cossotto (Mezzo Soprano),
José Van Dam (Bass)
Herbert von Karajan
Vienna State Opera Chorus,
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Written: 1853; Italy
Date of Recording: 1978
Venue: Vienna State Opera
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