With Leontyne Price, Giuseppi Giacomini, Leo Nucci, Isola Jones, Bonaldo Giaiotti-director,
James Levine -conductor with the Metropolitan Orchestra and Chorus
This performance, taped live on a Saturday afternoon in 1983, presents the great American diva, soprano LEONTYNE PRICE in one of her most famous Verdi roles. Her performance, factoring in age (57), career (30+ yrs), & the AFTERNOON, is late vintage Price. Certain vocal mannerisms - a cloudy lower voice, sliding portamenti, and scooping - are indeed present in this performance (as they were in some degree since the late '70s).
However, they hardly diminish either the vocal or dramatic impact that Ms. Price brings to this live performance. Her upper register, slightly weaker than before, still rings out minus any wobble and/or false pitches. She sings with beautiful dynamic shadings to accentuate the drama, and still floats pianissimi with little obvious effort. Indeed in this VERDI opera, most of those 'mannerisms' abet the drama, and always did for this particular artist! Ms. Price's performance as the tragic Leonora di Vargas here is heartfelt, passionate, and deeply moving.
As there are no other full-length taped commercial opera performances available of this legendary soprano, this VHS/DVD is all the more treasurable for a glimpse of what made LEONTYNE PRICE the reigning Verdi soprano for the past 40 yrs! Tenor Giuseppe Giacomini, while more protean vocally, sings crudely, giving a loud, unsubtle, yet dramatically tenable portrayal of the unfortunate Don Alvaro, complete with a bawling middle, somewhat off-set by ringing high notes.
Leo Nucci is a lightweight Verdi baritone, lacking the customary heft and tonal warmth associated with the role of Don Carlo di Vargas. He nonetheless produces exciting vocalism, enhanced by committed acting, and HIS thrilling high notes as well.
Mezzo-soprano Isola Jones acts well, looks lovely, but is a barely adequate Preziosilla vocally, with a weak middle voice & a short top. Bonaldo Giaotti's portrayal of Padre Guardiano is somewhat stolid, but his basso is authoritative, and also is beautifully produced. Maestro James Levine's love & mastery of this sprawling masterpiece ( the RCA CD version with Price/Domingo/Milnes is magnificent) is evident throughout, birnging clarity to the inherent contrasts between searing, private dramas, and all the lively interludes that occur on the battlefield and amongst the Italian countrysides.
Overall, this is a very fine VHS/DVD to own - not the overall best taped performance (Tebaldi, Corelli, etc 1959)- but a Special one for those seeking a cohesive, modern performance of "La Forza del Destino", and starring one of its most celebrated artists, "La Splendissima" soprano Leontyne Price LIVE!!
(An Amazon reviewer - let's have your reactions after the performance)
And now, a little taste of what's to come.