Weekend’s Something Else (La forza del destino)
I’d heard Forza once before a few years ago because I liked the bombastic title and I was very familiar with the overture. It didn’t leave a lasting impression. But seeing as how I seem destined to see this in the near future, I thought I’d familiarise myself with it before standing for 3 hours for the sake of sampling Bayerische Staatsoper at long last (yay!).
With all this in mind, and having listened to a lot of opera since – Verdi included – I was prepared to give it a lot more slack. Still, the story is quite idiotic (more false identities than a high security prison, stabbing party at the end culminating in a 6min+ long Verdi-soulful trio), but then that’s what I normally think of Verdi stories. Anyway. The music isn’t bad and in this instance very nicely conducted indeed.
Once La Monnaie’s production from 20081 started my eyebrows shot up at how absolutely awful Don Alvaro (main chap) was. I’m not even a Verdi aficionado but my god, what lack of artistry! Todorovich’s approach to the role is simple: shout, shout, shout, regardless of what’s being said and to whom; often regardless of pitch. Until Leonora (often the name of the main lady with Verdi) snuggled up to him he could’ve been the bad guy. On top of that, Westbroek’s voice is not Italianate enough for Verdi. That being said, her Son giunta/Madre pietosa… was quite nicely done.
Later, Pace, pace dio mio was underwhelming, though not quite as much as Don Alvaro and revenge-boy’s mini duet just before (people applauded that one – why? it was soggier than a wet diaper; maybe they were happy it was over). Westbroek has a slender yet rich voice – quite fetching in itself – but it didn’t make me feel Leonora’s doom and desperation for a moment and the maledizione (which I heard as male’zione) felt like she was holding back 3/4 of her real volume; if that wasn’t the time to let rip I don’t know what was…
So aside from the orchestral bits, the above production was pretty much a let-down. But I think 3 hours is doable, with Harteros and JK (if neither cancels). Also Kusej is directing it so there’ll be something to write about 😉 Something must be done with this hare brained story.
- You might wonder why I chose a contemporary version: because the one I heard initially was not and I noticed I have a bit of a problem adjusting to classic recordings. ↩