WORKS: Il trovatore
PERFORMER: Vladimir Chernov, Aprile Millo, Dolora Zajick, Plácido Domingo, James MorrisMetropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus/James Levine
CATALOGUE NO: S2K 48070 DDD
What a superb work this is: the quintessential Italian opera, with its absurd melodramatic plot and its wealth of glorious melody. It receives a fine, full-bloodedly Italianate performance from James Levine and his Metropolitan Opera forces, despite the fact that the international cast contains no Italians. As Manrico, Plácido Domingo compensates in musicianship, intelligence and attractive vocal quality for what he lacks in sheer visceral excitement, a quality which the other principals exhibit in abundance. Aprile Millo’s note-values may not always be exact, but she is a convincing Leonora, at her best in her Act IV scene with the villainous Di Luna, suavely characterised and sung by Vladimir Chernov.
Dolora Zajick brings the gypsy Azucena to fierce and vibrant life, and the lavish casting of James Morris in the secondary role of Ferrando is a bonus. A full score is performed without any of the usual theatre cuts, and James Levine shows himself fully cognisant of the opera’s real stature. His orchestra is prominent, but not damagingly so. Indeed, a lot of orchestral detail is heard, allowing more of Verdi’s felicitous scoring to be noticed than is often the case. There are other fine performances of Il trovatore, but this one is better than most. Charles Osborne