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Verdi: La forza del destino
Giuseppe Verdi, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Wiener Staatsopernorchester
Verdi: La forza del destino
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

A benefit performance of Mitropoulos
Anton Zimmerling | Moscow, Russia | 10/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The main and the only star of this live recording is the conductor, Dimitri Mitropoulos. His art is captured here in a good sound - this Vienna performance was played just a few months before the conductor's death in 1960. Mitropoulos gets a considerable support from the well-trained orchestra of the Wiener Staatsoper and tenor Giuseppe di Stefano.
Those, who wish to hear how one the greatest conductors of the 20th century performed Verdi, won't be disappointed. The tempi of Mitropoulos are idiosynchratic and at times too fast; the accents he makes are very fierce. But La Forza del Destino is exactly the type of opera that favours such an approach. It is a piece of a genius, dramatic and powerful, but not every bar in it is perfect.
People, who love heroic deeds from soloists and larger-than-life singing are advised to look for other sources. However, all recorded fragments from La Forza, which excel the level of soloists in this performance are in vintage sound. The all-times best Don Alvaro and Leonora are Giovanni Martinelli and Rosa Ponselle: a selection from airs and ensembles with them is available on Pearl. Alas, these great shadows cannot be revived. The best complete Italian version with great vocal powers in all parts is Marinuzzi (1941) w. Masini, Caniglia, Tagliabue, Stignani and Pasero: it has been reiussed many times and is available on Warner (Fonit 8573 82652-2).
A few words about the soloists in the reviewed version. Di Stefano' unique timbre adds a lot to the performance. He is an introvert and fatalistic Alvaro, well aware of his limitations: his beautiful voice was in fact too light for this part. Don't be afraid: Di Stefano is in a good form here.
Giulietta Simionato is artistically the best force in the cast, but her lyric mezzo is again too light for Preziosilla, compared with the voices of her rivals. Antonietta Stella is an accurate but rather impersonal Leonora. The reviewer on wished she were someone else. I am too modest to wish it, but I would scarcely return to this CD-set because of Stella. Ettore Bastianini demonstrates his ample baritone, but he is surely not the finest singer and not the most convincing Don Carlo in the world. Karl Doench is a funny Melitone. German and Austrian basses, which are cast as Guardiano and Marquis are simply unpleasant.
The liner notes include some touching reminiscenses about Mitropoulos written by his former assistent in Wiener Staatsoper, conductor Michael Gielen.
Strongly recommended.