Il Trovatore is one of my favourite Verdis, and having loved the 1978, 1988 and 2002 productions very much I was eager to see more of this great opera. Recently I did just that, I watched three productions, one from the Australian opera with Sutherland which had some good things but overall my least favourite production of the 6 Trovatores I've seen so far, this which was excellent and the 1972 production with Caballe, Glossop and Arkhipova which was superb.
This is as I've said excellent, not quite perfect but I don't think any of the Trovatores I've seen were. The costumes are good, particularly DiLuna's likewise with the sets. The lighting is suitably atmospheric, without it becoming too dimly lit, the sound has clarity and the camera work has a professionalism to it. Staging is fine too, apart from the soldiers' march off the stage which was rather wooden.
As you would expect from opera productions, this Il Trovatore is wonderful from a musical point of view. The orchestra play brilliantly throughout, their playing is full of pathos, passion and musicianship which is ideal for conveying this magnificent score. The conducting is unconventional yet precise, and the chorus singing is well pitched and balanced.
The principals' performances are overall very solid. Faring best is Fiorenza Cossotto, I have always liked this mezzo soprano for her fierce chest voice notes and sincere and impassioned acting. Azucena was one of her best roles, and while it is not as refined as it once was the voice has the wonderful chest voice put to perfect use in Stride La Vampa, and her acting is outstanding.
Franco Bonisolli is perhaps the most thrilling of the Manricos I've heard and seen. His singing as always is superb with ringing high notes that is in evidence in Di Quella Pira. Acting-wise, while occasionally on the blustery side, this is the best I've seen Bonisolli. His interaction with Plowright and Cossotto is more than credible.
Giorgio Zancanaro I have been consistently impressed with particularly as Sharpless(Madama Butterfly), Carlo Gerard(Andrea Chenier) and Monforte(I Vespri Siciliani). His DiLuna is appropriately menacing and human, and his singing is musically shaped complete with some of the more pleasing high notes of any baritone singing the role. Il Balen was for me one of the highlights of the production, because it showed all these things from this excellent baritone.
Rosalind Plowright I do like generally, but as Leonora I only had mixed feelings on her. Her diction is good, her singing in the middle registers is lovely, she has a pleasant stage presence and she is one of the better Leonoras in terms of acting. However, some of her colouratura sounds pushed, she runs out of breath in some of her legato phrases shown in the Misere and D'Amor Sull'Alli Rosee and she sadly gets behind in her first act Cabaletta.
Overall, an excellent if flawed production of a great opera. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox
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