Vive Verdi! French Rarities and Discoveries from Nabucco, Macbeth and Le Trouvère (Il Trovatore)
Ludovic Tézier (baritone); Chorus of Teatro Regio Di Parma; Orchestra of Teatro Comunale Di Bologna; Orchestra Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini/Roberto Abbado
Dynamic CDS7941 67:59 mins
What it says on the tin here is only part of the story. True, there is recently rediscovered Divertissement composed for Nabuccoand the curious suite of Spanish dances that Verdi wrote for Le Trouvère in Paris, are rarely if ever heard in productions of Il trovatore.
The more interesting history within Roberto Abbado’s foray into early Verdi, though, is about the composer setting his cap at success in Paris and abandoning his Italian operatic manners in a quest to compose French Grand Opéra that will beget Aida and above all Don Carlo.
It is exciting to hear Ludovic Tézier singing Macbeth in French in a production from Parma recorded in 2020. Abbado knows how to make the blood curdle when Macbeth demands that the three dark sisters tell him his future. But it’s Tézier’s Act IV number ‘Aux Anglais le traître contre moi – Honneurs, respect, tendresse’ that stays in the mind’s ear. Here’s a baritone with an instinct for the declamatory and expressive style that Verdi demanded for the role, who nevertheless manages to find an elegiac dignity at the end of the aria. The chorus of exiled Scots singing what in French is ‘O patrie ! O noble terre’ are equally affecting and the woodwind playing of the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini is a real joy.
What of the ballet music for Le Trouvère? It is competent and thought through when it borrows the theme from the earlier anvil chorus. But somehow it lacks Verdian fire.