Friday, September 15, 2006
I was happily reading Divas and Scholars where he tells about the huge scandal at La Scala when Riccardo Muti insisted that the tenor, Salvatore Licitra, not take the interpolated and inauthentic high C at the end of "Di quella pira" in Verdi's Il Trovatore. Wait. Don't I have a Trovatore from House of Opera with Muti conducting and Licitra as Manrico? How interesting!
This is a pretty terrific Trovatore. Besides Muti and Licitra, the cast includes Leo Nucci as di Luna, Barbara Frittoli as Leonora and Violeta Urmana as Azucena. I bought this DVD to hear Licitra, and it's entirely possible that leaving out the high C is what allowed him to sing this role. For me this is a small sacrifice. This opera is treacherously difficult to cast. The whole opera is relentlessly intense, very heavy, and full of dramatic accentuations, but with virtually all of Bellini's coloratura left in. Caruso is supposed to have said, "All it takes to perform Il Trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world."
According to Divas and Scholars, Muti was attempting to recreate Trovatore as Verdi would have done it. If I had a score, I could follow along and see what has changed, but I did manage to notice the absence of anvils in the Anvil Chorus. Not much of anything happens on the off beats.
This is very fine Verdi indeed, something we never seemed to get in San Francisco. Scandal or no, Muti gets the most applause.
P.S. If I give such a high rating to a House of Opera DVD, it's for the musical content, not the quality of the copy. Please beware.
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