ALBUM TITLE: Verdi
PERFORMER: Soloists; La Scab Chorus & Orchestra/ Herbert von Karajan; dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot
CATALOGUE NO: 073 022-9
Though there’s not enough information about the performance contained cither on the DVD itself or in the accompanying booklet, this filmed account, made at La Scala in January 1967, was Karajan’s final collaboration with the French director Henri-Georges Clouzot. Its cast was starry then and seems if anything more so now. I he tenor soloist, Luciano Pavarotti, was a relatively unknown replacement for Carlo Bergonzi, but glamorous soprano Leontyne Price,
big-haired mezzo Fiorcnza Cossotto and bass Nicolai Ghiaurov were top billing in 1967, and remain a formidable line-up in retrospect. The La Scala chorus and orchestra too show their natural authority in this music.
Whether seeing it as well as hearing it really adds much to our appreciation is another matter. The stiff formality of the choristers might be unexceptionable live, but on film it looks like some quaint ritual – all the more so since the auditorium is empty. Some of the camerawork is odd, with sudden cutaways from one image to another for no very obvious reason. Fascinating as a document for those wishing to study Karajan’s conducting technique, but overall the visuals add little to the impact of the sound.