The Requiem at Parma’s Teatro Farnese

ItalyItaly G. Verdi, Requiem:: Soloists, Orchestra and Choir Teatro Regio di Parma, Yuri Temirkanov (conductor), Parma’s Teatro Farnese. 08.10.2011 (JMI)


Dimitra Theodossiou (soprano)
Sonia Ganassi (mezzo soprano)
Francesco Meli (tenor)
Riccardo Zanellato (bass)

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G.Verdi, Missa da Requiem,
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DG / Unitel DVD

Parma’s Verdi Festival is no exception among opera theatres and festivals these days; the economic pressure is felt all around. This year the final program of the Festival wasn’t known until the beginning of September and one of operas (Il Trovatore) will be given in concert form.

The Verdi Festival takes place between October 1st and 28th and stages Un Ballo in Maschera and Falstaff this year – with two performances of the Requiem at the beautiful Teatro Farnese thrown in. The Farnese is a theater in the Palazzo della Pilotta and was built in 1618. The theatre is a semicircle with bleachers, with chairs added to the ground floor. It is a place of great beauty, built with wood and stucco (and so reconstructed after destruction in World War II), with a capacity of around 1,200 but rather deficient acoustics. From the stalls, all at the same level, it is difficult the view of the stage, especially if you are seated at the back. In short, it’s a more interesting theater to visit than to attend an opera performance in.

Yuri Temirkanov, music director of the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Parma, conducted. At almost 83 he is still—or rather again—in great shape and he was able to transmit energy to his musicians that defied his age. His reading was remarkable, particularly the beginning of the Requiem, which he attacked in breath-taking pianissimo, full of mystery and emotion. That level wasn’t quite upheld, orchestra and espeically the splendid chorus never contributed anything less than notable.

The quartet of soloists was not at the same level, no doubt affected by the flawed acoustics of the theater which takes a toll on voices that are not perfectly projected. Dimitra Theodossiou was not particularly noteworthy, except for a few beautiful soft touches in “Liberame, domine”. Sonia Ganassi was also adversely affected by the acoustics. Her voice is smaller than what is needed to sing this Requiem. If she fell short in terms of raw power, she made up for some of that with sheer gusto.

Francesco Meli replaced Roberto Aronica and he was the only one in the quartet whose voice came freely into the theatre. Meli’s voice is not large, but he projects it very well. His tenor is at the limit of the lyric voice, having widened his instrument during the last years. He was quite good at “Ingemisco” with only the top notes getting thinner. Riccardo Zanaellato was the weakest singer in the quartet, less than what one can expect from a true bass and unrefined.

José M. Irurzun