Verdi: Gala: Greatest Opera Arias

WORKS: Gala: Greatest Opera Arias
PERFORMER: M Alvarez, Carreras, Cura, Domingo, etc; Verdi Festival Chorus, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra/Zubin Mehta (Teatro Padiglione Palacassa, Parma, 2001)
This substantial concert formed one of the major commemorations of the centenary of Verdi’s death held in Parma, not far from his home town of Busseto. In terms of format, extracts – some quite lengthy – are included from 12 of his operas, taking in such rarities as Il corsaro and Jerusalem in addition to the more obviously popular works. The participants are in many cases the leading singers of this repertoire today – though one or two are past their best. Two of the Three Tenors participate (Pavarotti is the odd-man-out) and such younger stars as José Cura and Marcelo Alvarez have been brought in to represent a new generation.


The evening is held together by a script outlining Verdi’s career, read by the singers themselves. Verdi scholars would probably find some of its narrative fanciful, but it acts as a useful introduction to the musical items. People sometimes lament the lack of true Verdian voices today, but that is not the impression gained from listening to the likes of soprano Daniela Dessi or mezzo Luciana D’Intino, though generally the performances tend to be broad brush stroke under the baton of Zubin Mehta. George Hall