I love opera, I love Verdi, so naturally I wanted to see what Luisa Miller was like. After hearing it, I think it is while not Verdi's best a very intriguing and highly listenable opera with a very moving and intense final scene. The story with the love story revolving around the political and religious conflicts of the time is compelling, and the music as expected is just wonderful.
In a way though it is also quite challenging, particularly the duet with Federica and Rodolfo, while arias such as Ah Fu guisto has difficulties such as phrases, like I heard James Levine say in an interview, being too long to sustain if conducted too slow and having little or no place to breathe.
I very recently saw two productions, this one and the 1979 Met production with Domingo, Scotto and Milnes. The latter I prefer just marginally, but this Luisa Miller is very good. The costumes and sets are excellent without being too fancy, and done justice by atmospheric lighting and videography, while the orchestra and conducting are spot on.
The performances are very good on the whole as well. Most of the roles in Luisa Miller are quite difficult, because whereas there are some operas with lyric passages, dramatic passages, high passages or low passages, Luisa Miller combines all of these in some shape or form and then there is the acting to consider. While he sings brilliantly, acting-wise Tara Ichihara comes off least effectively. He does emote at least particularly in Quando le sere al placido, but there are other times for my tastes where he was rather stolid. Edward Toumajian is a fine Miller, Romauld Tesorowisz is very effective as Wurm and June Anderson is a wonderful Luisa, but I think both vocally and acting-wise Paul Plishka as Count di Walter steals the show. Though Susanna Anselmi deserves credit also for bringing some interest into a somewhat uninteresting character such as Federica.
Overall, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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