La forza del destino

 

Verdi La forza del destino opera to libretto by Francesco Piave revised by Antonio Ghislanzoni. Directed 2014 by Martin Kušej at the Bayerische Staatsoper. Stars Anja Harteros (Leonora), Jonas Kaufmann (Don Alvaro), Vitalij Kowaljow (Il Marchese di Calatrava/Padre Guardiano), Ludovic Tézier (Don Carlo de Vargas), Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla), Renato Girolami (Fra Melitone), Heike Grötzinger (Curra), Christian Rieger (the Mayor), Francesco Petrozzi (Maestro Trabuco), and Rafał Pawnuk (Un chirurgo). Asher Fisch conducts the Bayerisches Staatsorchester & Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper (Chorus Master Sören Eckhoff). Sets by Martin Zehetgruber; lighting by Reinhard Traub; costumes by Heidi Hackl; dramatic advisors Olaf A. Schmitt and Benedikt Stampfli. Directed for video by Thomas Grimm. Executive Producer Norman Patokha; Producer Magdalena Herbst.  Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

Let’s jump right into screenshots. Below see Leonora (Anja Harteros) and Don Alvaro (Jonas Kaufmann) planning to elope:

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On the left is Leonora’s father, the Marchese di Calatrava (Vitalij Kowaljow). On the right is the young Don Carlo di Vargas in a green sweater. Later in the opera Don Carlo will appear as an adult at times wearing a green sweater:

Now Don Carlo (Ludovic Tézier) is grown. He seeks to find and kill his sister and Don Alvaro because their actions led to the death of the Marchese. It isn’t hard to spot them in this crowed scene below:

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Preziosilla (Nadia Krasteva) sings her rabble-rousing war song:

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Leonora, fearing her brother, decides to seek sanctuary in a monastery:

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The monks accept her because she will live as a hermit in a remote cave:

Now the Spanish are fighting in Italy. Kušej builds a clever set that you see simultaneously from the side and from looking down:

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Both in disguise, the mortal enemies become blood brothers in battle. In this updating to modern times, it’s a little hard to believe that Don Carlo has no idea what Don Alvaro looks like:

Oops! Back to mortal enemies again:

The hermit’s cave:

Showdown:

Don Alvaro is the last man standing:

Hugo Shirley, writing in the June 2016 Gramophone at pages 93-94, goes all out praising Kušej for his update that "swims with allusions but never really feels anchored" and the "dream team" of Kaufmann, Harteros, and Tézier. This is clearly the best HDVD of La Forza in November 2018, and we think it should get an A-, which is a good grade for this overly complicated opera.

Here are a couple of good clips: