Photo by A. Bofill
Verdi Bicentennial Concert
Image taken from the first series of concerts, performed from September 30th to October 3rd, 2013
The commonly used phrase “Three times is the charm” was certainly applicable in describing Sunday night’s third concert in the Liceu’s series celebrating the Bicentennial of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth. While I had expected a good concert, I had no idea of how good it would be! The Cor and Orquestra Simfònica de Gran Teatre del Liceu and the individual soloists were exceptional, and the fine selection of both some well-known and far lesser-known works by Verdi created a most memorable evening.
Opening the concert was a work from Emani, an opera infrequently performed today. 'Oh de’ verd’anni' sung by baritone Juan Jesús Rodríguez was performed with such confidence and vibrancy that it set the stage excellently for the delights that followed. From the same opera, the tenor Josep Bros’s impressive performing abilities and voice were exhibited in 'Odi il voto'. This particular work has now become one of my favourites and was certainly a favourite with others as the audience indicated with their enthusiastic applause.
Soprano Rachele Stanisci’s performance was as dazzling as the jewels she wore. 'Oh sommo Carlo' also from Emani, was the first piece she performed along with Josep Fadó, tenor, Juan Rodríguez, baritone and John Relyea, bass, accompanied by the Liceu Cor. What kept running through my head during and following this piece was, simply, “WOW!” All the performers were excellent and I did not want the piece to end.
Following the selections from Emani came several from Macbeth, the first Shakespeare play that Verdi adapted for the operatic stage. By the standards of Italian opera during the first half of the 19th century, Macbeth was highly unusual but also extremely popular and was frequently performed. Fading from public view after 1865, it experienced a mid-20th century revival. The tension created by the Orquestra was a perfect prelude to the powerful and dramatic performance of 'Studia il passo, mio o figlio…' from Act 2 of Macbeth performed by bass John Relyea. This incredible performance was followed by Josep Bros’s emotional and impressive interpretation of 'Oh figli, oh figli miei' from Act 4 which earned him audience “Bravos!” Also from Act 4, the beautiful and moving 'Patria oppressa' ('Downtrodden country') showcased the combined talents of the Orquestra and Cor. Ending the selections from Macbeth was Juan Jesús Rodríguez’s performance of 'Perfidi! All’Angelo contro me v’unite…', which sent emotional chills down my spine.
I Lombardi alla prima crociata (The Lombards on the First Crusade) is infrequently performed today but the violin solo performed by Kai Gleusteen from the Prelude Act 3 was totally captivating and met with enthusiastic audience response. Tenor Carlo Ventre’s voice and interpretation of 'La mia letizia infondere' from Act 2, his first solo performance of the evening, also garnered “Bravos” from the audience. Tenor Josep Fadó captivated my attention with the very expressive and moving patriotic feel of his performance of 'Un breve instante', which he sung in conjunction with Rachele Stanisci, John Relyea and the Cor.
The second half of the programme continued with selections from La Forza del Destino and included the prelude from the St. Petersburg version, which I always find enchanting and haunting, but incredibly enjoyable. Next a selection from Alzira, 'Irne lunge ancor dovrei', a pleasant and melodic piece performed gracefully by Josep Bros.
One of the most memorable performances of the evening was that given by Rachele Stanisci as she performed 'Egli non riede ancora!...' from Act 1 of Il Corsaro. This particular work showcased her ability to sing gently, beautifully and with so much feeling and depth.
As the evening came to a close, the Liceu Cor performed 'Vieni, a guerriero vindice' from Aida. This remarkable final performance was followed by three 'curtain' calls, the last one after the house lights were ablaze and the stage lights darkened!
A second performance of the third concert in the Verdi series will be performed this Thursday October 17th at 8pm. The Liceu’s Verdi Bicentennial series of concerts continues until October 21st.