In his 2007 production for the Maggio Musicale in Florence, French opera director Nicolas Joël – named as the next director of the Opéra de Paris from 2009 – presented his reading of Giuseppe Verdi’s La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny). An adventure story and a tale of grim pursuit and unrelenting misfortune, of faith, renunciation and - fi nally - death and forgiveness, Verdi’s La forza del destino is, like an operatic road movie, also a portrait gallery of the different places and curious people the main players meet along their way.
This is a tremendously enjoyable production of an opera that can be difficult to bring off. La forza del destino is so epic that it runs the risk of sprawling, and if the performers and the stage director don’t exercise self-discipline, the opera quickly loses its focus. I don’t think anyone will argue that this is the best-sung performance that he or she ever heard—in spite of its difficulties, there are many good audio-only recordings of this opera—but this is one of those times when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The last time I reviewed a DVD of this opera in these pages, it was a version dating from 1983 from the Metropolitan Opera, with Leontyne Price, Giuseppe Giacomini, and Leo Nucci in the lead roles… Raymond Tuttle
Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" is one of the most difficult of his operas to cast properly. The demands of the music for the 5 principals are quite formidable, and require a command of vocalism that only the greatest singers can offer. It further requires the leadership of an immaginative conductor to bring cohesion to "Forza's" somewhat sprawling score. This recording towers over the others in best meeting the aforementioned 'criteria'. Maestro James Levine demonstrates his mastery of the score throughout, creating intimacy in the more personal passages of the opera (no more so than in the moving Convent Scene), contrasted with the bustling energy of scenes in the countryside and battlefield. His conducting has the "sweep" and verve so neccessary to illuminating and energizing the overall (Russian-influenced?) darkness of this turbulent score…
Martin Kušej’s thrilling contemporary interpretation of Verdi’s late period opera proved the perfect vehicle for the Bavarian State Opera’s dream team of Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros. The imposing sets’ references to terrorism and the implosion of modern civilization bring the opera’s inherent drama to a breathtaking pinnacle. Specialist promo & marketing activity.