Argentina Verdi: La Forza del Destino (1869 version): Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Colón, Renato Palumbo (conductor), Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 28.4.2012. (JSJ)
Donna Leonora di Vargas: Dimitra Theodossiou / María Pía Piscitelli
Don Alvaro: Mikhail Agafanov / Emmanuel Di Villarosa
Don Carlo di Vargas: Luca Salsi / Fabián Veloz
Padre Guardiano: Roberto Scandiuzzi / Paolo Battaglia
Preziosilla: Agnes Zwierko / María Luján Mirabelli
Fra Melitone: Luis Gaeta / Luciano Miotto
Marchese di Calatrava: Fernando Radó / Mario De Salvo
Trabuco: Fernando Chalabe / Gabriel Centeno
Alcalde de Hornachuelos: Leonardo Estévez / Gustavo Feulien
Curra: Guadalupe Barrientos
Doctor: Gustavo Feulien / Fernando Grassi
Direction/sets/costumes/lighting: Hugo De Ana
Assistants: Nicola Zorzi, Marcin Lakomicki, Cristina Aceti (costumes)
Chorus: Peter Burian
Choreography: Michele Cosentino
Following soon after a production of Rigoletto, Verdi’s similarly great but very different La Forza del Destino made for an interesting comparison – not least with the level of resources at the Teatro Colón enabling the “grand” to be put into grand opera.
For local opera goers this production was timely, having last been produced at the Colón 27 years ago. And while it wasn’t entirely orthodox, it did nevertheless present a compelling view of this work – as was De Ana’s production of La Bohème for the reopening of the Colón two years ago.
For example, the first Act was presented more as a prologue, with the overture being played as a bridge to the second Act, and a giant Jesus on the cross lay, as if fallen over, over the holy cave that is Leonora’s refuge in the last act. Overall the scenography – a combination of scenery and projection – was most effective: metal and stone “beams” served in different combinations and angles as battlements and other structures and a cloudy post sunset sky added a sense of realism to certain scenes, although the changing close up faces in the monastery scene seemed superfluous.
For several of the cast this was their Buenos Aires debut. The Greek soprano Dimitra Theodossiou (Leonora) and Russian tenor Mikhail Agafonov (Alvaro) were both strong and sang with much colour, while Italian baritone Luca Salsi (Don Carlo) warmed into the role after a hesitant start, and bass Roberto Scandiuzzi (Padre Guardiano) sang with an authority that wasn’t quite matched in his bearing. Agnes Zwierko was a moderately spirited Preziosilla and Luis Gaeta made the most of his Melitone.
Guadalupe Barrientos (Curra), Fernando Radó (Marquis of Clatrava), Fernando Chalabe (Trabuco), Leonardo Estévez (Alcalde) and Gustavo Feulien (the doctor) all gave intelligent interventions and the chorus acted with the same passion as it sung.
Praise too for the orchestra, which was in good form under Renato Palumbo.
Jonathan Spencer Jones