Verdi: La forza del Destino

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: La forza del Destino
WORKS: La forza del Destino
PERFORMER: Martina Arroyo, Kennneth Collins, Peter Glossop, Don Garrard; BBC Concert Orchestra/John Matheson
CATALOGUE NO: ORCV 304
Verdi’s original 1862 version of Forza differs from the regularly performed 1869 text in three essential particulars. There’s a shorter, pithier prelude, though based on similar material to the later extended overture. There’s a reordering of the third act, and the final scene was substantially altered because the composer eventually decided that the original – with three dead bodies on stage – was too nihilistic. In other places, Verdi made some smaller adjustments to vocal lines and so on.

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It’s an interesting alternative version, whose only previous appearance on disc was in a Kirov studio recording made under Valery Gergiev in 1995. Despite the all-Russian cast, that performance is idiomatic and exciting. It’s also in better sound than this CD issue of a BBC studio performance from 1981, which is a bit clogged. But this new arrival’s strongly cast, with Martina Arroyo grandly passionate and in full command of Verdian line as Leonora. Kenneth Collins’s Alvaro could be textually more incisive but he too is consistently expansive. Don Garrard’s Padre Guardiano lacks weight, and while Peter Glossop gives a varied reading of Carlo he’s apt to be blustery. Impressive support in secondary roles comes from the personality girl Preziosilla of Janet Coster and the dryly humorous Melitone of Derek Hammond-Stroud. Conductor John Matheson holds the whole show together with style and security.

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Indeed it’s a sterling effort, well worth a CD appearance, if not quite the equal of Gergiev and his team at their best. George Hall