ALBUM TITLE: Verdi
PERFORMER: Busseto Opera/Massimiliano Stefanelli; dir. Franco Zeffirelli
CATALOGUE NO: DV-A1DD8
Recorded on the exact centenary of the composer’s death, this performance of Verdi’s opera was given in the tiny theatre at Busseto, the town closest to his birthplace. Though spectacle on a Hollywood scale is out – and less important than a certain grandeur of spirit – the sets and costumes reproduce what the work’s first audiences might have expected to sec: an ancient Egypt of the imagination. The production is a labour of love, directed by the leading exponent of traditional operatic staging, Franco Zeffirelli, with talented young principals taught in workshops by the leading Verdian tenor Carlo Bcrgonzi. The rehearsals are sampled in an accompanying documentary film. Though none of the singers yet has the vocal amplitude to do justice to his or her role in a major house -the Amneris is only 23 — in this 350-seat auditorium, and under Bcrgon/i and Zeffirclli’s thoughtful guidance, the results are exceptional. Lovingly conducted by Massimiliano Stefanelli, this performance represents traditional opera at its very best and is a touching document of age and youth brought together by the work of a genius.