A legendary performance
E. A. Lovitt | Gladwin, MI USA | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In spite of its rambling plot and reliance upon coincidence, "La Forza del Destino" has some of the most beautiful music in opera. Having heard numerous recordings (including the Met's 1984 video with Leontyne Price) plus a live performance, I can say without a doubt that this version is my favorite. I can't think of a more perfect cast of singers.When Herbert von Karajan first conducted Renata Tebaldi at La Scala in 1946, he exclaimed on hearing her sing "Ah! La voce d'angelo!" (Ah! The voice of an angel!) - possibly a comment on her location (she was singing in the organ loft) - but his description also fits her voice.In this recording of 'Forza,' Tebaldi spins out phrases of sheer tonal velvet, especially in Leonora's aria, 'Madre, pietosa Vergine' outside the monastery, and later when her voice floats out over the voices of the monks in the prayer 'La Vergine degli angeli.' Then you will have to wait until opera's end for 'Pace, pace, mio Dio.' Thank God Bach was Protestant, or we would have nothing to counter the gorgeous, compelling religiosity of this Verdi, as sung by Tebaldi. Listen to Franco Corelli sing 'La vita e inferno all'infelice,' one of the most difficult and beautiful tenor arias that Verdi ever wrote, or to his duet with Bastianini, 'Solemne in quest'ora,'and you may agree with those of us who believe he was the twentieth century's greatest tenor.The grim determination of Ettore Bastianini's Don Carlo di Vargas makes him a perfect foil to Correli in the Act IV duet "Invano, Alvaro, ti celasti al mondo." Corelli will break your heart, even though he is a somber rather than piteous Padre Raffaello. There is none of the Gigli sobbing in his music.Boris Christoff is a majestically sung Padre Guardiano. Just imagine Boris Godunov as a rather terrifying Italian monk. The two minor but important roles of Fra Melitone and the gypsy, Preziosilla are perfectly rendered by Renato Capecchi and Oralia Dominguez. If this 'Forza' hadn't had such strong principals, these two characters might have stolen the opera. I usually consider the fortune-telling, war-mongering gypsy and the short-tempered Franciscan monk annoyances to be gotten past so that I can hear the principals sing, but Capecchi and Dominguez demand a careful listening for these roles. This performance is conducted by Francesco Molinari Predelli."
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 12/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the three or four most satisfying recordings of this great, sprawling opera - and two of the others also feature Tebaldi. To hear her at her very best, you need to go to the legendary 1953 live set, thrillingly conducted by Mitropoulos - Del Monaco also is stunning here - but the sound is pretty woolly and Aldo Protti merely adequate compared with the burnished, nut-brown tones of Bastianini. The 1955 Decca studio recording, in excellent stereo sound, is very good - I cannot believe how snooty some critics (especially British ones who rave about weedy, effete voices like those of Pears, Bostridge and their like) are about Del Monaco in this, probably his best role; to me he is tremendous, but it has to be said that for sheer glamour, Corelli tops him in this 1958 recording (also available on black white DVD). The cast assembled is without peer, although some might reasonably prefer Siepi to Christoff in the role of Padre Guardiano; both are deeply satisfying. The sound is good and although Tebaldi is a little ungainly at times, this is a passionate, committed performance of real stature and Corelli's admirers will need no convincing; his duets with Bastianini are priceless. Buy it - only be aware that the common stage cut of about ten minutes is made in Act 3 (just after "Urna fatale") of the duet beginning "Ne gustare m'e dato", leading to "Sleale! Il segreto fu dunque violato" and culminating in the sword fight between Alvaro and Carlo (so wonderfully recorded by Caruso and De Luca) - so it's not a complete version, unlike the studio sets."