Verdi: La Forza del Destino - Bergonzi, Cavalli, Shaw, Ghiaurov, Capecchi, Veasey; Solti. London, 1962


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La Forza del destino, one of Verdi's most challenging and complex operas, gets a probing, melancholy reading from Georg Solti. Even during the rambunctious scenes with Preziosilla (a somewhat out-of-place) Josephine Veasey can't hide the despair that runs like a river through this opera. The cast is solid, although the men rather outdo the women. House baritone John Shaw sings very admirably as Carlo without much dramatic intent. Nicolai Ghiaurov lends his reliable gravitas to the Padre and Renato Capecchi leans on the funny rather the nasty side of Melitone. The women fair less well. "Saucy" is not a word one usually would use to describe the stage presence of Josephine Veasey, so her Preziosilla is kind of a wash. The Leonora, Floriana Cavalli, is a name unknown to me, and unfortunately her unsteady intonation betrays why. Although she has some lovely top notes, Solti clearly was prepared for an indifferent reaction from the audience and he does not pause for applause after her arias. This has the side effect of allowing Alvaro to become the opera's real central figure, and here Bergonzi does not disappoint. He, unlike pretty much everyone else onstage, is capable of matching the fire Solti rises from the pit, and there is some thrilling vocalism, especially in his duets with Shaw. Sometimes it only takes a great tenor and a great conductor to raise a performance from mediocrity.

OD 11112-3

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