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Stiffelio is not one of Verdi’s most loved operas, interesting though it may be. But Graham Vick’s modern dress production from the Teatro Farnese in Parma is revelatory. Vick uses the floor of the theatre to stage the opera on a series of mobile platforms. The audience arrives to mingle with the chorus and extras, milling around the elevated soloists; the orchestra is situated to one side of the auditorium, people unfurl slogans around the empty seating. As the drama unfolds Vick focuses on the importance of tolerance of all types of love and relationships, and how religion can pervert and destroy this.

It is immersive and exciting, and wonderfully filmed by Daniele de Plano. Luciano Ganci is Stiffelio, his tenor having a good Italianate thrust, his demeanour intense. Francesco Landolfi’s baritone is smooth as Stankar, and Giovanni Sala convincingly plays the soprano’s love interest, Raffaele. The Lina is Maria Katzarava, a good actress with a stunning Verdian soprano; phrasing, coloratura, a range of dynamics and colours, nothing seems to faze her. Conductor Garcia Calvo masters the difficult task of keeping everything under control in the unorthodox configuration. Watch this, and in one small way be thankful that you weren’t there – at least you can sit down!

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Opera Now, 2019 - ©Rhinegold Publishing