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Verdi: La Forza del Destino
Giuseppe Verdi, James Levine, London Symphony Orchestra
Verdi: La Forza del Destino
Genre: Classical
 
This is the best all-around Forza recording available. Other sets have finer individual performances--Callas is unmatchable under Serafin, even though her singing is occasionally rough, and Price, years earlier under Tho...  more »

      
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Amazon.com essential recording
This is the best all-around Forza recording available. Other sets have finer individual performances--Callas is unmatchable under Serafin, even though her singing is occasionally rough, and Price, years earlier under Thomas Schippers, is in more even voice than she is here. Still, this set is the best overall presentation of this complex work. Much credit must go to conductor James Levine, who manages to keep the jumbly drama together. Even the rowdy military scenes seem to matter here, and having the iron-lunged Fiorenza Cossotto as Preziosilla is a plus. Domingo is at his most passionate, and his duets with Sherrill Milnes are golden experiences. And if you can overlook some of Price's occasionally bad habits--singing with a hollow lower register, scooping for effect--you're in for a treat. Bonaldo Giaiotti is not quite authoritative enough for Guardiano, but he'll do. This is a big, extroverted reading of this work, and it'll grab you and hold you. --Robert Levine
 

CD Reviews

The best recording of La Forza, despite a few flaws
The Cultural Observer | 01/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"La Forza del Destino, despite the several attempts to immortalize it on disc, has a discography devoid of any perfect recordings. It is an extremely complex work, with several extremely beautiful and exciting moments, and it is also very difficult to conduct and cast. The five principles needed for the opera require a mastery of Verdian singing, especially for the roles of Leonora di Vargas and Don Alvaro. The conductor is also faced with the challenge of setting the proper moods for the different setting that the opera takes place in. If the score is not as sophisticated as Aida, then La Forza is at least one of the most difficult scores to manage through due to the complex atmospheres Verdi requires of the conductor.

On to the recording's cast. I think no other recording of this Verdian masterpiece features such an amazing cast. Placido Domingo sings a definitive Alvaro with the passion and drama needed plus a voice in its most beautiful prime. I would say that after Corelli, he is my choice for Alvaro. Sherrill Milnes sings a Carlo with the venom needed and the vocal acting to make the role a memorable performance. I think that after Carlo Tagliabue, he is the ideal Don Carlo. Preziosilla is taken by the very charismatic and iron-lunged Fiorenza Cossotto. A truly memorable performance. Bonaldo Giaiotti isn't as ideal as Cesare Siepi in the role of Padre Guardiano, but his voice has all the gravitas needed and he sings the role quite well. Kurt Moll is luxurious casting in the small role of the Marchese di Calatrava, and Melitone is endearingly sung by Gabriel Bacquier. This brings us to the somewhat small weakness of the set--Leontyne Price's Leonora. Her high notes are radiant, the artistry is simply ravishing, and her sense of drama as the doomed Leonora is impeccable. However, her nonexistent lower register is problematic, especially in a role which often brings the voice down to those notes. Her diction is somewhat problematic too in this recording, with several of her vowels becoming "American". That aside, she is one of the most compelling Leonoras on disc, second only to Maria Callas as the doomed Vargas. I think the other Leonora of my choice would be Renata Tebaldi.

Levine conducts an energetic, exciting, and true-to-the-score rendition of Verdi's score. If there ever were an ideal conductor for this opera, it would be Levine at this stage of his career. He sweeps through the score with the necessary passion and gravitas which make this opera such a favorite among Verdians."
Disjointed Annoying
W. Burton | NY & LA USA | 05/18/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I remember buying this LP as a young man, my first "Forze". I'd known the opera as a boy and loved it. However, when I put this version on the turntable, I thought I'd bought the wrong work. I never listened to this annoyingly disjointed rendering again.

A few weeks later, I bought the strikingly brilliant Price, Tucker, Merrill "Forze" with Shippers conducting (1965?) and have never had need of any other. That's the version to get. That, and the Callas version."
Price is passed her prime
Indiana Opera Buff | Fort Wayne, IN United States | 01/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I think people should be warned that even though this is a splendid recording in other ways, especially a golden performance from Placido Domingo, Leontyne Price, at 50 years old, is a bit passed her prime here. Her Pace, pace, mio Dio at the end is good (except for sharping the high pianissimo) but her voice in the rest of the opera seemed somewhat fragile, and she struggled with many of her high notes. Buying this recording would not be a waste of money, but you might be happier with the recording Miss Price made of this in the 1960's with Tucker, Merrill, Tozzi, and Verrett."