Trovatore in the Catalan Gardens

SpainSpain G. Verdi, Il Trovatore: Soloists, Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Chorus of the Palau de la Música Catalana, Roberto Rizzi-Brignoli (conductor), Peralada Castle, Peralada, 20.7.2012 (JMI)

Concert Version


Manrico: Misha Didyk
Leonora: Angela Meade
Azucena: Marianne Cornetti
Conte di Luna: Leo Nucci
Ferrando: Luiz-Ottavio Faria

Peralada Castle

In its 26th year now, the Peralada Festival remains faithful to its tradition to treat opera lovers every summer. With a Jonas Kaufmann recital, for example, and Carlos Alvarez’ much anticipated Don Giovanni. And there was the opening shot, a concert performance of Il Trovatore with the great Leo Nucci as Conte di Luna.

Undisturbed by meteorological upheaval, the open-air performance was free of wicked little surprises—a first since I’ve been going, and the spectacular gardens at the Castle, worth a visit alone, looked their best.

Roberto Rizzi Brignoli conducting, challenged by the demands of how the open air surroundings affect the dynamics, was not convincing. The tempi were erratic: too fast tempi during the first half and ever relaxed in the second. He cut some cabaletas, but kept others. He did get a remarkable performance from the orchestra and orchestra, though, which sounded better than on past occasions.

Misha Didyk was a decent Manrico with a voice of considerable quality, though lacking brightness, projection, and strength on more than one occasion. As happened in Brussels, he arrived exhausted at the end of “La Pira” which he then got over and done with as well as he still could.

I was most interested in the American soprano Angela Meade as Leonora. Her soprano is one of today’s most promising voices, which has recently been acknowledged at the Met where she returned as Elvira in Ernani after her Met-debut in 2008. This soprano has great strengths and a few weaknesses. The voice is beautiful, well suited to the lyric and the lyric-spinto repertoire. It’s not a particularly big voice, but it flows freely. Her technique is also excellent, which allows her to overcome any difficulties of a score. She offered some beautiful pianissimo passages and she showed off her agility. The only problem is a limited lowest end of her register and that she hasn’t yet achieved the pinnacle of vocal expressiveness.

For some opera characters, there is no middle way. Either you triumph or, going unnoticed, you fail. Azucena is one of those roles. Marianne Cornetti came out on the right side: She was perhaps the real winner of the cast, with a voice very suitable to the character and the ability to convey her intentions in every phrase. Despite an occasionally annoying vibrato, this was one of the best performances I remember of her.

The popular appeal was Leo Nucci, though, who is still today’s reference in all characters in which he is able to move an audience He’s not generally his best with villains, though. Leo Nucci easily identifies with the characters of tormented fathers: Rigoletto, Francesco Foscari, Simon Boccanegra, and even Nabucco. Count de Luna doesn’t belong to that category and while Nucci’s performance was good, it didn’t create the usual rousing popular success he enjoys. Time goes by for everybody, except those singers who seem to have a pact with the devil, and the great Leo didn’t sound as fresh as he has even in the recent past.

José Mª Irurzun