"This is, of course, a matter of preference, but this La Forza has been my favorite for the last five years. From it's most dramatic thunderous rendition of the famous overture to "Salita a Dio", it simply has no flaws. It has a great combination of principals - Carreras, Bruson and Plowright, all singing with utmost sincerity and power. The supporting roles are just as nicely cast. We can enjoy a real "gitana" portrayal by Agnes Baltsa as Preziosilla, unmatched on record, an imposing patriarchal image of Padre Guardino conveyed with ease by Paata Burchuladze, and interesting and amusing choice of Juan Pons for Fra Melitone. All these singers are well versed in Verdian repertoire, having performed numerous roles many times on stage and on record. Fantastic "Solemne in quest'ora" is reminiscent of well-known Del Monaco/Bastianini duet. Carreras's "La vita e inferno all'infelice" narrative is unique on record. It's not pitiful whining, as so many tenors sang it before, but it's a challenge to the cruel destiny! Grim determination of Bruson's Don Carlo makes him a perfect weapon in the hands of fate. Rosalind Plowright has a lovely voice and fine breath control; her romanza "Me Pellegrina ed orfana" is a real treat. (The only very minor nuisance is Mark Curtis' Trabuco; his weak and practically cracking voice is quite irritating, so I was glad Trabuco has only 3-plus minutes of "fame".) Sinopoli's intense rendition, sometimes maybe too loud for some ears, is appropriate since it provides good background for action. It's more similar to Gergiev's great vehement attempt at the original St. Petersburg 1863 version than to Muti's carefully polished presentation of familiar 1869 revision used for this recording as well. Overall, any serious Verdi fan cannot call his/her collection complete without this set, even if you have the celebrated Gardelli or Levine sets already. Not to mention the fact that DG provides great digital recording and comprehensive informative booklet."
A most enjoyable forza
PhantomOfTheOpera | Norway | 10/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say this opera has worked its way upwards in my esteem the past couple of months or so. The first time I listened to it I thought the choice of soprano for this recording was a terrible one, but as time goes by I find that I get more and more used to her way of singing. I wouldn't take it as far as saying that Rosalind Plowright is a perfect Leonora; but even so her performance is good enough and she gets better towards the end of the opera.
The one that puts in an excellent performance here is my favourite mezzo soprano Baltsa who sings the part of Preziosilla. As always she's throwing herself heart and soul into the singing and she's adding that little extra to her performance that makes it a joy listening to her.
Renato Bruson who has a beautiful baritone is singing the part of Don Carlo di Vargas. In the duet "solenne in quest'ora" with Carreras he sounds wonderful. And his aria "urna fatale" is pure delight.
The one I have reservations about is Mark Curtis who sings the part of Trabucco. As always it's a matter of taste, but I find his voice to be unpleasant listening to.
José Carreras sings the part of Don Alvaro and to my ears he sounds wonderful even if this was recorded in 1985 and many claim that his voice was way past his sell by date. I read a review from BelCanto regarding his "Forza" video performance in 1978 and they states that "In the aria Solenne in quest'ora he sings the phrase "vi stringo al cor mio" in one breath, a feat not even managed by Franco "big breath" Corelli". This made me curious to check whether he could still do the same in this recording 7 years later, so I sat down and listened closely to this particular aria. And guess what - HE DID IT!!!! And it sounds heavenly; absolutely heavenly. Carreras is like always a committed singer from beginning to end of this opera and gives it all in every aria. And when the result is as good as this; what more can one possibly want? To me, the most important thing isn't how loud a singer can be; what I'm looking for is a singer who can stir my emotions and in this respect Carreras is unsurpassed.
The rest of the supporting cast is adequate and makes this "Forza" an enjoyable experience."
Lively conducting and fine Bruson, Pons and Baltsa!
Armindo | Greece | 05/15/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sinopoli's usually bombastic conducting is more controlled in this Forza than on some of his other Verdi recordings. The problems lie in his cast. By the time this recording was made, Carreras' voice had lost most of the qualities that made him one of the greatest Verdi tenors ever! Granted, the sense of drama and understanding of Verdi's music is still legendary but, alas, the wear and wobble in the voice are unbearable especially if you have in mind the prime Carreras. He was in pristine shape for his La Scala Forza with Caballe in 1978. It was a good idea to finally hear a new soprano in a studio recording but casting Plowright wasn't the wisest choice. She has a some fine moments but her high notes are pinched and her Leonora on the whole forgettable. I wonder why DG didn't consider Millo or Barstow. Newcomers and both wonderful Verdi sopranos. Millo especially would have made a great Leonora di Vargas.Bruson, Pons and Baltsa are this set's strengths. Bruson remains one of the best Verdi baritones of any time! His big, handsome voice is exactly what this role needs. Burchuladze is adequate. The less famous Juan Pons impressed me since I first heard him during the Barcelona Olympic Games. His warm, firm bass is terrific though he could sing more excitingly. The also underrated Agnes Baltsa gives a superb performance of Preziosilla's thankless role. It's such a pity that her scenes are this opera's less memorable moments. In general, this is neither the worst nor the ultimate Forza del Destino. Mitropoulos' live '53 Firenze reading with the unequalled Mario Del Monaco and Renata Tebaldi remains the golden standard."
Wonderful conducting, but problematic leads
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sinopoli was a very imaginative Verdi conductor and deserved better here. In ruth there was no Verdi dramatic soprano at the time who could sing Leonora to a high standard, and with Domingo already tired to the Levine set on RCA, and Pavarotti not having this role in his repertory (Don Alvaro is almost as heavy as Rhadames, which also was a strain for Pavarotti), Carreras was the logical choice, He does as good a job as you could want, and Rosalind Plowright has the notes for the part, despite having a peculiarly covered voice with curdled high notes.
I owuld still defend this La Forza for the atmospheric sound and Sinopoli's wonderful conducting, but of course that's not enough to make a successful opera overall."