Verdi: A Verdi Gala from Berlin

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: EuroArts
ALBUM TITLE: Verdi
WORKS: A Verdi Gala from Berlin
PERFORMER: Andrea Rost, Ramón Vargas, Alan Titus, Lucio Gallo etc; Berlin Philharmonic/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 2050858 (NSTC system; 19.9 anamorphic; dts 5.1
This New Year’s Eve 2000 concert from the Berlin Philharmonie presents extracts from five Verdi operas with some high-quality soloists and the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of its then artistic director and a leading Verdian. The lengthiest sections are three scenes from Falstaff, with members of a cast that had worked with Abbado on this opera in the theatre. Memories of their stage activity enliven these excerpts dramatically, whereas those from the other operas are basic concert interpretations with little visual representation.

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Andrea Rost proves an accurate but rather cold interpreter of standard pieces from Ballo in maschera (as Oscar), and Traviata, while tenor Ramón Vargas at least adds some Mexican warmth and charm to his scenes from these two operas, and the two solos of the Duke in Rigoletto as well. (Neither Traviata nor Rigoletto, incidentally, has previously featured in Abbado’s stage career, so they’re all the more welcome for that.) More unusual is a sequence from Act III of Don Carlos, sung in occluded French by Carmela Remigio and Stella Doufexis, which takes in part of the ballet that is almost always cut in the theatre. Abbado and the Berlin players have a chance to let their hair down here, and clearly enjoy themselves, as they do in a well-chosen encore, Johann Strauss’s quadrille on themes from Ballo. Musical standards are consistently high, even if the concert presentation is often dull. George Hall