7 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 2 - October 2013

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VIVA VERDI: An Appreciation | continued from page 10opera, sombre and dark-hued, was again a bittoo much for its public and a source of frustrationfor Verdi; but he never gave up and revisedit a few times until it took its rightful place in therepertoire in 1881.Even at the height of his fame Verdi’s problemswere unending. His next work, Un Ballo inMaschera (1859), on the assassination of GustavIII, King of Sweden, ran into a bitter fight withthe censors resulting in a compromise relocating it to distant, colonialNorth America, with the king becoming amere governor. But another major ordercame, this time from the Tsar of Russiawho wished a new work for the Bolshoi inSt. Petersburg from the “world’s greatestopera composer.” He couldn’t refusethis opportunity even if he had to travelto Russia in the winter — he was subjectto colds and other minor ailments anddisliked travel — but he persevered andproduced La Forza del Destino (1862)again a great success. By this time Verdihad beaten Meyerbeer at his own gamewith this superb, richly endowed grandopera with glorious roles for soprano, tenor, baritone, bass and mezzorequiring five top singers, each in for a big workout, who made theirnames in those roles. Next: Don Carlo (1867) for the Grand Opera, Paris,considered by Verdi aficionados as his greatest opera, if not THE greatestever. It is a historical opera based on Schiller’s not-too-accurate accountof the Spanish Infante’s hopeless love affair with his stepmother, thewife of King Philip II, son of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Apartfrom the superb, atmospheric drama of many fascinating characters andmusic of the highest inspiration, it was Verdi’s portrayal of the aging andunloved king that gave this opera its true poignancy. One more majorcommission came from the Khedive of Egypt who wanted somethingspecial for the opening of the Suez Canal and for the new opera housein Cairo. Verdi did not hesitate for a moment and Aida (1870) becamea world favourite and has never left the stage since. Verdi was all of 57years old.By then, however, times and music had changed. New composersemerged in Italy, among them the young Mascagni who took thecountry by storm with his Cavalleria Rusticana based on a Sicilianpeasant tragedy that started a new trend, the Verismo. More influentially,Wagner’s long shadow descended on Italy taking many formerVerdi supporters with him. Verdi was criticised as being old-fashioned,stuck in the mud, unable to produce anything new and different. Verdiwas mortally offended. For the next 15years he was unable to compose any newstage works, lost his usual confidence andbecame despondent. A small consolationwas his quasi love affair with a charmingyoung prima donna, Teresa Stolz. Verdiwas past 70, but his appeal to the ladiesremained unabated.Inspiration and confidence fortunatelydid return, and urged by his new friendArrigo Boito, a composer and librettist ofhigh acumen, Verdi’s interest in Shakespearewas rekindled. During the dormantperiod and under Wagner’s influence, hedeveloped a new style with emphasis on the orchestra and continuousmusical flow rather than set pieces, and Otello (La Scala 1887) andFalstaff (La Scala 1893) were born. Musicologists believe Otello surpassesanything he had written before, but posterity and the public still preferRigoletto or Aida. Nonetheless, Verdi was indeed a genius to be able toturn his music around at this stage of his life.He died in Milan in 1901 of a stroke. Hundreds of thousands cameto his funeral, the young Toscanini conducted the orchestra, and thecrowd spontaneously burst into “Va pensiero.” Italy went into nationalmourning at the loss of her greatest composer and beloved patriot.Janos Gardonyi is a frequent contributor to DISCoveries.Recommended Recordings (All DVD or Blu-ray)!!NabuccoNucci; Ribiero, Zanellato; Theodossiou;Chiuri; Orchestra e Coro del Teatro del Regiodi Parma; Michele MariottiTutto Verdi 3 Cmajor 720408!!ErnaniBerti; Guelfi; Prestia; Neves; Orchestra eCoro del Teatro Regio di Parma;Antonello AllemandiTutto Verdi 5 Cmajor 720808!!MacbethNucci; Iori; Valayre; Iuliano; Orchestra e corodel Teatro Regio di Parma; Bruno BartolettiTutto Verdi 10 Cmajor 722008!!RigolettoDemuro; Nucci; Machaidze; Spotti; Iranyi;Teatro Regio di Parma; Massimo ZanettiTutto Verdi 16 Cmajor 723208!!Il TrovatoreAlvarez; Radvanovsky; Zajick; Hvorostovsky;Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus;Marco ArmiliatoDeutsche Grammophon 073 4783!!La TraviataVassileva; Giorano; Stoyanov; Orchestra eCoro del Teatro del Regio di Parma;Yuri TemirakanovTutto Verdi 18 Cmajor 723608!!Les Vêpres SiciliennesHaveman; Fritz; Marco-Burmester; Szabo;Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra andChoir; Paolo CarignaniOpus Arte OA 1060 D; OA BD7092D!!Simone BoccanegraGuelfi; Konstantinov; Mattila;La Scola; Concetti; Orchestrae Coro del MaggioMusicale Fiorentino;Claudio AbbadoTDK DVUS-OPSIBO!!Un Ballo in MascheraMeli; Stoyanov; Lewis; Fiorillo;Gamberoni; Teatro Regio diParma; Gianluigi GelmettiTutto Verdi 21 Cmajor 724208!!La Forza del DestinoTheodossiou; Stoyanov; Machado;Pentcheva; Scandiuzzi; Lepore; Teatro Regiodi Parma; Gianluigi GelmettiTutto Verdi 22 Cmajor 724408!!Don CarloVillazón; Poplavskaya; Keenlyside; Furlanetto;Ganassi; Halfvarson; Lloyd; Royal OperaHouse Orchestra and Chorus;Antonio PappanoEMI Classics 50999 6 31609 9 4!!AidaChiara; Cossotto; Martinucci; Scandola;Zanazzo; Arena di Verona Production;Antonio GuadagnoNVC Arts 0630193892!!OtelloAntonenko; Poplavskaya; Alvarez;Wiener Philharmoniker;Riccardo MutiTutto Verdi 25 Cmajor 725008!!FalstaffMaestri; Salsi; Gandia; Vassileva;Bargnesi; Tomasoni; Pini; TeatroRegio di Parma; Andrea BattistoniTutto Verdi 26 Cmajor 725208! ! RequiemPrice; Cossotto; Pavarotti; Ghiaurov;Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala;Herbert von KarajanDeutsche Grammophon 073 405568 | October 1 – November 7, 2013

Concert Season Begins!KOERNER HALL’SFIFTH ANNIVERSARYRoyal ConservatoryOrchestra conductedby Julian Kuertiwith Luri LeeFRI., OCT. 4, 2013 8PMLed by Maestro Kuerti, the RCO isjoined by violinist Luri Lee, a RebanksFellow of The Glenn Gould School,for a program that includes R. Strauss’s“Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome,Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major,and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.Mischa Maiskywith Lily MaiskyTHUR., OCT. 10, 2013 8PMRussian cello virtuoso Mischa Maiskyis accompanied by his daughter, pianistLily Maisky, in a program of works bySchubert, de Falla, Rachmaninov, andShostakovich. “Maisky's playing is markedby razor-sharpness and biting humour,studded with moments of deep longing.”(Hamburg Daily)Presented in partnershipwith Show One Productions.Chris ThileFRI., OCT. 25, 2013 8PM“Chris Thile is special in an alreadyspecial circle.” (Huffington Post)The mandolin virtuoso andcomposer is giving rise to a newgenre of contemporary music.Thile will perform works fromhis new Bach recording, as wellas his own compositions.Yuja WangSUN., OCT. 27, 2013 3PM“Quite simply, the most dazzlingly,uncannily gifted pianist in theconcert world today, and there’snothing left to do but sit back,listen and marvel at her artistry.”(San Francisco Chronicle)Chinese pianist Yuja Wangexplores works by Prokofiev,Chopin, and Kapustin.Vesuvius Ensemble andThe Sicilian Jazz ProjectSAT., NOV. 2, 2013 8PMTravel south to Naples and Modicawith the Vesuvius Ensemble andThe Sicilian Jazz Project for anevening of traditional Italianmusic and Mediterranean jazz.András SchiffSUN., NOV. 3, 2013 2PM“Mr. Schiff is, in Bach, a phenomenon.”(The New York Times) András Schiffreceived the 2012 International ClassicalMusic Award in the Solo InstrumentalRecording of the Year category, the Orderpour le mérite for Sciences and Arts, andwas also made a Member of Honour ofVienna Konzerthaus. In this solo recitalhe performs Bach’s Goldberg Variationsand Beethoven’s “Diabelli Variations.”TICKETS START AT ONLY ! 416.408.0208 www.performance.rcmusic.ca273 BLOOR STREET WEST (BLOOR ST. & AVENUE RD.) October 1 – November 7, 2013 | 69

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