LABELS: Beckmann Cascade
ALBUM TITLE: Verdi
PERFORMER: Donati. Kalinina, Teliga; Honved Ensemble Budapest. Vienna Junge Philharmonie/Michael Lessky;dir. Wolfgang Werner (St Margarethen, July 2000)
CATALOGUE NO: BDV 51001
These performances both derive from stage productions at the Roman quarry of St Margarethen in the Austrian province of Burgenland. The site provides a playing area of approximately 7,000 square metres with seating for 3,800 spectators which makes it, as the jackets of these two DVDs proclaim, ‘the biggest Open-Air Stage in Europe’.
The cliffs of the quarry provide a superb background for these spectacular stagings by Wolfgang Werner of Nabucco, filmed in July 1997, and Aida, filmed in July 2000. In both cases, the productions arc, as one would expect, hugely conventional, but certainly extremely lively, with lots of horsemen dashing about (I counted at least 14 racing around at one point in Aida) and hundreds of colourfully costumed extras.
Nabucco has Wilier Donati in the title-role. His singing is inflexible, his acting dull and uncommunicative, and in close shots his make-up looks ludicrous. Gahna Kahnma’s hard-edged soprano makes her a suitably fierce Abigaille, and the other roles are more or less adequately sung. In Aida, Donati is the Amonasro, with Pauletta de Vaughn an acceptable Aida, and Adriana Nicolai an over-the-top Amneris. Bruno Sebastian’s Radames is fiercely sung. Both operas are competently conducted. The DVD production is, in both cases, irritatingly over-intrusive. I would not recommend either of these discs. Charles Osborne