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Giuseppe Verdi: La forza del destino
Dimitra Theodossiou (Leonora), Aquiles Machado (Don Alvaro), Valdimir Stoyanov (Don Carlo di Vargas), Roberto Scandiuzzi (Father Superior), Carlo Leporo (Fra Melitone), Mariana Pentcheva (Preziosilla), Ziyan Atfeh (Marchese di Calatrava), Myung Ho Kim (Mastro Trabuco), Adriana Di Paola (Curra), Alessandro Bianchini (Mayor), Gabriele Bolletta (A Surgeon), Coro del Teatro Regio di Parma, Martino Faggiani (Chorus Master), Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Parma, Gianluigi Gelmetti (Conductor), Stefano Poda (Stage, Set, Costume, Lighting Director and Choreographer), Tiziano Mancini (Video Director)
Recorded live at the Teatro Regio di Parma (February 2 & 5, 2011) – 189’ (including bonus introduction)
C Major Entertainment DVD # 724408 or Blu-ray 724504 (distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English, German, French and Italian – Subtitles available in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Japanese

When it comes to creations by Stefano Poda, he undoubtedly likes to take control. Quoted directly from his website succinctly outlines personal endeavors: “In his search for aesthetic and conceptual unity, the artistic work of Stefano Poda always encompasses direction, set design, costume design, lighting and choreography, in a personal seal founded on a visionary, multi-level imprint balanced between ancient images and contemporary art.” Poda’s La forza del destino indeed corroborates with this cerebral vision in a production extraordinaire featuring monochromatic black as a color base while turning to the 1920s for wardrobe. Two huge moveable panels containing stacked blocks of varying textures act as the scenic backdrop for the first half of the opera. These walls imprison the bizarrerie of choral choreography that overreach into the kingdom of abstraction.

Giuseppe Verdi’s La forza del destino is a slow starter until it reaches Act III. The Alvaro/Carlo duet is invasively edgy and tense, well argued through Aquiles Machado and Valdimir Stoyanov, respectively. Dimitra Theodossiou well encapsulates the ideologies of a spinto soprano with her exceptional delivery of torment and anguish; her Leonora’s Prayer, “Madre, pietosa Vergine”, is compelling although physically she looks rather lumpish in an overcoat and top hat. Father Superior’s pontifications are unshakable and well demonstrated by Roberto Scandiuzzi while Carlo Lepore’s Fra Melitone (think Sancho Panza from Massenet’s Don Quichotte) adds restraining lighter fare amidst a menu of somber entrees. Preziosilla’s role in La forza doesn’t add intrinsic value in moving the plot, but instead engages in some pretty far-fetched divertissement that has Mariana Pentcheva’s shaky mezzo register remind us as if we’re in a bad “Rataplan” from La Fille du régiment.

Bits and pieces of Stefano Poda’s La forza del destino carry plausibility and energetic might, but the effort doesn’t send Verdi’s Spanish melodrama over the top. Act IV is the opera’s best segment since it lacks any choral stage appearance. Normally on top of his game, this time Martino Faggiani’s direction is sloppy: hesitant lead-ins, tentative note grabbing and unmatched synchronization with Gelmetti’s orchestra is only aggravated by Poda’s slow-motioned gesticulations. What appears to be on-the-surface impromptu meanderings only rifts the group enclave deeper into the ground.

In comparison to an earlier 2008 Vienna production personally reviewed, Stefano Poda’s staging is visually stunning on all levels. Lighting with specially added effects (i.e. fog and torches) amplify its physical beauty, but other theatrical additives only find it that more difficult to stay pinned to the seat.

Stefano Poda Website

Christie Grimstad




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