OPERA ON VIDEO
Reviewed by James Karas
Verdi: IL TROVATOREAlvarez, Romano, Sgura, Nioradze
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio di Parma, Yuri Temirkanov. Directed by Lorenzo Mariani
C Major, Unitel Classica. Blu-ray and DVD.
Il Trovatore makes such high demands on the singers and is so theatrically difficult that there may be no production that will please everyone. Using the bicentenary of Verdi’s birth as an incentive, Unitel Classica is issuing 26 of his operas on Blu-ray and DVD in high definition and surround sound. Tutto Verdi with all the trimmings. This is their contribution to the growing number of recordings of the opera.
They have chosen to record a 2010 production at the Teatro Regio di Parma conducted by Yuri Temirkanov and staged by Lorenzo Mariani. The principal roles are taken by Marcelo Alvarez (Manrico), Teresa Romano (Leonora), Claudio Sgura (Count of Luna) and Mzia Nioradze (Azucena).
Argentinian tenor Alvarez makes a fine Manrico. He may not perform vocal acrobatics but he hits his notes and holds on to them when necessary with finesse. He is physically big and takes the heroic postures of a lover in distress.
Italian baritone Sgura is in even greater distress as the Count who must live with unrequited love. Sgura has a rich voice that resonated impressively in passion and in fury. A command performance.
Soprano Teresa Romano may not be the ideal Leonora but she gave a stirring performance as a woman who dies for love. Her voice is reasonably full and passionate but simply does not soar to the heights that we want Leonora to reach. Dressed in a white gown, she had a good stage presence.
The gypsy Azucena is given enough notes to steal the show but mezzo-soprano Mzia Nioradze barely kept what was legally hers. She gave us some dramatic moments and good singing but she did not go beyond that.
Stage Director Lorenzo Mariani and Set and Costume Designer William Orlandi give an idiosyncratic production that goes from the interesting to the head-scratching. There are some rocks strewn on the stage, which may have a place in an exterior scene, but what are they doing indoors? Stage props are kept to a minimum. There is a statue of a white horse, a huge bed with column-size candles and little else. The libretto calls for eight different locations and any realistic attempt at set changes would be almost impossible. Call the solution in this production minimalist and decidedly not realistic.
There is very little by way of a backdrop and most of the time we see nothing but darkness behind the singers. A large moon is shown during some scenes but the bare stage floor against that type of background make it seem as if the opera takes place atop a cliff. A few steps in the wrong direction and you could fall into some canyon. As I said, it is quite tough to establish any kind of locale except for the wing of the palace that Mariani and Orlandi turn into a bedroom.
The opera takes place at night and Orlandi provides blue lighting almost throughout. Video Director Tiziano Mancini does a reasonable job in his choice of shots except for the fact that most of the time the camera is poised just above the performers. It is like watching the opera from the balcony as opposed to the orchestra seats.
Yuri Temirkanov conducted the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio di Parma and the sound from the pit was clear and stirring. The chorus was excellent.