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As the Verdi Festival Parma works its way through performing the composer’s complete works it also films them. The first, Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, is arguably the rarest of Verdi’s operas, so this is a useful opportunity to see it, especially performed in the tiny Teatro Verdi di Busseto. It doesn’t come across as the strongest drama, rather static with singers at the footlights, but this might be Pier’Alli’s production, updated from the thirteenth to sixteenth century for no apparent reason. But it has some enjoyably robust music that portends the riches to come. Giovanni Battista Parodi’s Oberto is sometimes vocally rough, but he injects some life into the proceedings; Fabio Sartori’s immobile tenorial presence swiftly removes it, though he is vocally assured. Francesca Sassu’s wan soprano doesn’t liven things up, and Mariana Pentcheva’s Cuniza is hardly Italianate. Antonello Allemandi conducts routinely and fails to ignite proceedings.

Un giorno di regno is much more enjoyable, and Pier Luigi Pizzi’s production is both elegant and fun, yet also manages to show restraint and avoids turning the performance into a romp. He provides no great insights, but I doubt they are there to find. The sopranos are nicely contrasted, with Anna Caterina Antonacci providing a crisper tone and sharper personality than Alessandra Marianelli (for the good), and both have aplomb. Ivan Magrì’s Edoardo is suitable sweet-voiced, and he and Marianelli make a convincing couple. Guido Loconsolo is suitably majestic and the remaining cast performs with gusto. Donato Renzetti is the conductor and contributes to a performance of some style.

By the time you reach Nabucco you can understand why it was a hit. Daniele Abbado’s production is non-specific of era, and dramatically effective. Leo Nucci’s Nabucco is rightly renowned and seemingly ageless; he and Dimitra Theodossiou’s Abigaille rip through the performance with relish. Her voice is pushed by the music (whose isn’t?) but she clears all the hurdles and survives. Anna Maria Chiuri and Alessandro Spina make more of Fenena and Ismaele than usual, though Giorgio Surian rumbles his way through Zaccaria. Michele Mariotti’s conducting and the fine chorus contribute positively to this strong production.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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