A fine production of an uneven but unfairly neglected Verdi
I Lombardi is neither one of Verdi's best or one of my favourites of his operas. It has fine music certainly especially the act 3 violin prelude, but the story is even more complicated than Il Trovatore and I still have difficulty fully believing the part where Oronto converts from Muslin to Christian so he can go to heaven. Nonetheless any Verdi work is well worth hearing, and I Lombardi is no exception. Being the only production to be available on DVD as of now, this La Scala production is definitely worth seeing. The costumes and sets do have a certain atmosphere, and the staging even at its most functional in Act 3 is never dull. The orchestral playing manages to be confident and emotionally complex, the chorus rousing and well balanced and Gavazzeni's conducting is typically autocratic. Exceptional performances too, with the one disappointment being the strained Arvino of Carlo Bini. Jose Carreras is in the role of Oronte, the role is somewhat restricted but the beautiful tone and musicality of Carreras' voice is still on display. Giselda is the character who I think ties the opera together, and I found Ghena Dimtrova outstanding, being intense, moving and vocally volcanic. Silvano Carrolli sings with his usual richness and plays Pagano/Hermit beautifully, and Luigi Roni doesn't disappoint either. All in all, a fine production. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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