Verdi: La Forza Del Destino / Gardelli, Arroyo, Bergonzi

Release Date: 11/25/2009
Catalog Number: EMI 67124
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli
Number of Discs: 3

Physical Format:

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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Arroyo can soar and shine, expand on a broad phrase, softly attack a high note. The voice is smooth, rich and alluring through all its range, and the personality warm.

La forza del destino is a long opera, but it is carefully shaped, carefully balanced—specially in the revised edition of 1869, which is what we hear today. The Sadler's Wells production of just over a year ago, which was probably the first uncut theatre performance for nearly a century, showed how much more effective the work is when given in full. It is a 'chase' opera in which Carlo pursues Alvaro and Leonora through two countries, through cloister and convent, through scenes popular and martial, all treated on the most expansive scale. To the Duke of Rivas's play scenes are added from Schiller's Wallensteins Lager. Verdi was well aware that in Forza, Don Carlos and Aida he had embarked on a new kind of musicdrama; they were modern operas, he said, made with different ideas, operas with a purpose as opposed to opera made with duets, cavatinas, etc. The theme of Forza is the heroine's and hero's quest for peace, since they cannot find happiness—a peace which Carlo, abetted by Destiny, will not allow them to enjoy.

The excellence of Lamberto Gardelli's interpretation is evident from the start. The overture is extraordinarily well played by the Royal Philharmonic in a sensitive, exciting performance, very clearly recorded. Throughout, the orchestral playing is fresh, supple, beautifully shaped; the RPO, even at this date, even with so many players changed, still sounds here like "Beecham's orchestra". (And it has been a special pleasure to be able at last to follow the opera in study score, available now from Peters, Hinrichsen in this country.) The first scene is not the best. Antonio Zerbini addresses his daughter loudly rather than with paternal tenderness, and Leonora's air seems somewhat forward, not wistful enough. Bergonzi's first utterances are also insufficiently romantic, but tenderness and line come into his performance at "Pronti destrieri". Thereafter everything goes well.

This is Martina Arroyo's first major recording, apart from that Donna Elvira for Bohm, but her Valentine, her Aida, most recently her Leonora in 11 trovatore, have already endeared her to English audiences. Caballe, Price and Arroyo are our leading Verdi sopranos today. Arroyo can soar and shine, expand on a broad phrase, softly attack a high note. Both the big arias here are very beautiful, and so are the asides, the narratives delivered with a gentle urgency, the impassioned exclamations which are never uncontrolled. The voice is smooth, rich and alluring through all its range ; the personality is warm. Below the stave she may not be as strong as Boninsegna, but she shows a firmness lacking in Price's version of the first aria.

Piero Cappuccilli has a fine rich voice, and an excellent sense of Verdi style. Carlo's ballata "Son Pereda" can so easily sound dull and square, but Cappuccilli shapes it, colours it, and makes it interesting. Gardelli is not one of those conductors who ruin Verdi's music by applying a metronomic drive; the singers, and the phrases, breathe and live under his baton. There is a Serafin-like suppleness to his reading; he neither drives the music nor allows it to flag. However, Cappuccilli's pitching is neither here nor in the principal baritone aria, "Urna fatale . . . Egli e salvo", as precise as one would like. He is more careful in the three duets with the tenor, all of which are admirably done. Carlo Bergonzi sings beautifully, with ardent, lyrical tones and eloquent phrasing. His aria is romantic and moving; the duets are shaded and dramatic. Mixed feelings about Bianca Maria Casoni, the Preziosilla. Her final "Buona notte" is beautiful, and there is a good deal of delicate, pretty, mischievous singing. But there is no trill for "Venite all'indovina", and the Rataplan is not perfectly in tune (it must be very difficult; Shirley Verrett, for RCA, goes a little stray here too). Geraint Evans's Melitone is well and surely sung but, surprisingly, shows little of the wit and character that Corena for Decca or at Sadler's Wells Derek Hammond-Stroud brought to the role. Raimondi with his splendid bass makes a grave, steady, satisfying Father Guardian.

The arias and duets are very important; but as early as Trovatore time Verdi was longing to write an opera "as it were all in one movement", and in this performance Forza gives far more than number-by-number pleasure. The 'perspectives' and sequences of the tavern scene with the pilgrim chorus passing slowly across behind, of the cloister scene with distant chanting and burst of full organ as the great doors are thrown open, and above all of the long military scene that starts with a dawn patrol and ends with the Rataplan, are recreated with striking success. As early as 1849 Verdi had been drawn to "this marvellous scene in Schiller's Wallenstein: soldiers, vivandieres, gypsies, fortune-tellers, even a friar who preaches in the most delightful and comic manner in the world. You can even" —he wrote to Cammarano—"include a gypsy dance". I played the set through without interval; the thread of the drama never falters; one is gripped from first to last. There is admirable singing from the Ambrosians. In sum, a first-rate achievement.

-- Gramophone [3/1970, reviewing the original LP release]
Works on This Recording
1. La forza del destino by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer: Piero Cappuccilli (Baritone), Martina Arroyo (Soprano), Bianca Maria Casoni (Mezzo Soprano), Antonio Zerbini (Bass), Florindo Andreolli (Tenor), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor), Ruggero Raimondi (Bass), Sir Geraint Evans (Baritone), Virgilio Carbonari (Baritone), Derek Hammond-Stroud (Baritone), Mila Cova (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli
Period: Romantic
Written: 1862/1869 ; Italy
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