Verdi Choruses (La Scala/Chailly)
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala/Riccardo Chailly (Decca)
Nabucco – ‘Gli arredi festivi’; ‘Va, pensiero’; I Lombardi – ‘Gerusalem!’ etc; Ernani – Prelude; ‘Si ridesti il Leon di Castiglia’; Don Carlo – ‘Spuntato ecco il di d’esultanza’; Macbeth – ‘Che faceste? Dite su!’; ‘Patria oppressa’; Il Trovatore – Anvil Chorus; La forza del destino – ‘Nella guerra, è la follia’; Aida – ‘Gloria all’Egitto’; Simon Boccanegra – ‘Viva Simon’
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala/Riccardo Chailly
Decca 485 3950 62:59 mins
La Scala has enjoyed a special relationship with Verdi ever since his first opera – Oberto – was premiered in Milan in 1839. Six of its successors – not to mention various revisions – also received their first stagings at the theatre up to Falstaff in 1893. As music director, Riccardo Chailly has maintained the high profile the theatre has traditionally accorded Verdi’s operas. This release celebrating the conductor’s 70th birthday offers extracts from nine works, running from his first major success – Nabucco – in 1842, up to the Italian premiere of Aida nearly 30 years later.
Chorus and orchestra are both on their mettle here: the orchestral playing is clean and brilliant, the choral tone full and healthy. The range of tone and dynamics available is well displayed in the famous ‘Va pensiero’ from Nabucco, where Verdi’s markings, and especially his frequent sotto voce instructions, are carefully observed. When more than one group of people is involved – as in the opening of Nabucco, or the substantial scenes from Don Carlo and Aida – each is given careful characterisation and clear dramatic motivation.
Verdi’s earlier scores such as I Lombardi are delivered with dignity – in the decorative writing for flute and piccolo in ‘O signore del tetto natio’, for instance. The witches in Macbeth supply a touch of the comic-grotesque. The Aida Triumph scene is stirring, yet also contains a slightly intimidating quality – state power at its most crushing – while its spatial elements are vividly presented.