La forza del destino

 

Verdi La forza del destino opera to libretto by Francesco Piave. Directed 2011 by Stefano Poda at Teatro Regio di Parma Verdi Festival. Stars Ziyan Afteh (Il Marchese di Calatrava), Dimitra Theodossiou (Donna Leonora), Vladimir Stoyanov (Don Carlo di Vargas), Aquiles Machado (Don Alvaro), Mariana Pentcheva (Preziosilla), Roberto Scandiuzzi (Padre Guardiano), Carlo Lepore (Fra Melitone), Adriana Di Paola (Curra), Alessandro Bianchini (Un Alcalde), Myung Ho Kim (Mastro Trabuco), and Gabriele Bolletta (Surgeon). Gianluigi Gelmetti directs the Orchestra e Coro Del Teatro Regio di Parma (Concert Master Martino Faggiani). Sets, costume, and lighting design, and choreography by Stefano Poda. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini.  Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

Stefano Poda, one of the most distinctive opera directors, has been involved in some 100 productions including at least 15 in his “unity style” in which he designs and directs everything that happens on the stage. His unity productions typically involve monumental (often multi-level) surreal modern sets that occupy the entire stage area and are decorated with elaborate designs, giant unique stage props and structures, and grand coordinated color schemes (often white, black, and red) that undergird the sets and extend to his unique costumes —- all supported by unusual dramatic lighting. The designs usually incorporate modern themes blended with classical motifs. He tends to put massive choral forces on the stage in identical costumes. Finally, he adds specially trained dance forces that often appear as close to naked as possible. Poda directs the movements of the dancers in manner that most choreographers would probable call pageantry or gymnastics.

So what does this Poda style look like? Here are a few Destino screenshots from Poda’s excellent website (sorry, no topless dancers in this one):

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We haven’t seen this title yet, but we think Poda shows great respect for the music and the libretto in his shows.

Patrick Dillon on page 62 of the October 2013 Opera News commands a firing squad for everybody associated with this Forza del destino other than the bass Carlo Lepore and video director Tiziano Mancini. Poda goes to the wall first for lifeless directing and "zombie dance numbers" for the chorus. Each of the condemned singers is then dispatched for different reasons. Per Dillon, Gelmetti in the pit kept speeding up just to get the whole thing over, and he is the last to face the ranks with the rifles.

We can't recall any review in a magazine harsher than Dillon's assessment of this Forza from Parma. We also found no print critic who defends Poda’s take. We did find , however, read several thoughtful Amazon customer reviews who were happy with this disc. We suggest you would probably not be happy with this title if you are just starting to learn about Forza del destino. But if you are looking for something different than the traditional approach to this opera, Poda’s vision might suit you.

We find no YouTube clip that does justice to this title. We give this a provisional grade of C+. We would be happy to bump the grade up if someone wants to defend this disc.