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Stiffelio has enjoyed quite a revival of fortunes over the last couple of decades, and Guy Montavon’s Parma production is a worthy addition to the catalogue, his simple Amish setting making perfect dramatic sense. Andrea Battistoni adds to his reputation with a controlled reading of the score, and his cast is good if not riveting: Roberto Aronica is a solid protagonist, grave but not pompous, and his Lina, Yu Guanqun, provides a rich soprano and looks slightly awkward (not entirely dramatically unwelcome). Roberto Frontali’s robust baritone suits Stankar very well.

We take a step back with Il trovatore in Lorenzo Marioni’s dull production, which offers an almost lunar landscape and not much else. Marcelo Álvarez is not the greatest actor but at least he tries to inject some fervour into Manrico; Mzia Nioradze’s Azucena is generic and Claudio Sgura’s di Luna patchy. As Leonora, Teresa Romano’s soprano is frustrating; she has a good basic tone and the right instincts but she becomes increasingly squally through the performance, the Miserere pushing her well beyond her limits. Yuri Temirkanov’s conducting deserves better.

Temirkanov returns for La traviata and here he has a much more involved cast to work with. Svetla Vassileva’s soprano may have lost its lustre but it remains secure, and her moving Violetta is flesh and blood. Massimo Giordano looks and sounds suitably boyish; Vladimir Stoyanov’s Germont is suavely sung. Karl-Ernst and Ursel Herrmann’s traditional production looks very fine.

Pier Luigi Pizzi’s production of I vespri siciliani is elegant and effective. His experienced cast knows what to do, but alas their collective ability is somewhat diminished. Daniela Dessì’s soprano has the notes but is now somewhat acidulous, and Fabio Armiliato’s tenor less easy than of yore. Likewise Leo Nucci and Giacomo Prestia are exposed by the music’s demands. Massimo Zanetti’s conducting makes a persuasive case for the work.

Genoa is beautifully evoked in Giorgio Gallione’s production of Simon Boccanegra and Damiele Callegari’s conducting suitably fluent. Leo Nucci is on noble form as Boccanegra, Roberto Scandiuzzi is a little rusty as Fiesco, and Tamar Iveri and Francesco Meliare both strong as Amelia and Gabriele Adorno.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Opera Now, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing