This is a 1998 performance from the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, of the original 1862 St. Petersburg version of Verdi's La Forza del Destino. While the world-famous version premiered in Italy in 1867 is the superi... more »or work, few will want to miss the rare opportunity to see and hear such a well-staged version of Verdi's first thoughts. Here the earlier libretto by Francesco Maria Piave is restored, the original, considerably darker ending is intact, and even the sets are constructed to the 1862 designs. There are other differences, though the story remains the familiar mixture of love, misunderstanding, and war, the characters ranging from the nobility to monks, soldiers, and gypsies, the tone spanning low comedy to high drama. The result is a lavish production, full of life and vitality, shot through with musical urgency and some tremendously powerful singing. Particularly striking is Gegam Grigorian, making a commanding Don Alvaro, whose role here is rather more expansive than in the later version. Galina Gorchakova reprises her Leonara from the 1997 CD recording of the work with passionate intensity, and conductor Valéry Gergiev keeps the epic scale tightly focused. The direction for video unobtrusively brings out the heart of the drama on stage. --Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk« less
"There are other DVD versions of 'Forza' that I would recommend over this one which is conducted by Valery Gergiev, namely the superb1958 performance that was recorded with Renata Tebaldi and Franco Corelli. However this 'Forza' has the original ending that Verdi wrote for the opera's premiere performance at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre in 1862. In fact, it is performed in that same theatre, and if there are times when you wish the tenor _would_ leap to his death in the last act, then this might be the version for you.Galina Gorchakova has an attractive, lyric soprano, perhaps a bit pinched on top but with a nice lower register. Her "La Vergine degli angeli" is clear and rapturous, and her soprano rises with ease over the heavier voices at the inn, and later at the monastery.Gegam Grigorian is an unkempt, alcoholic Don Alvaro who sings with the weight of his past sins forever on his shoulders. When Don Carlos (Nikolai Putilin) taunts him into a rage, he is truly frightening. His portrayal makes it easy for us to understand why he threw himself off of the rather shaky cliff at the end of Act IV.In just few short years, Valery Gergiev has risen from an obscure assistant at the Kirov to one of the most sought-after conductors in the opera world. We catch a brief, intense glimpse of him here, conducting the overture. His fingers tremble and stroke the air as though he were playing vibrato on his orchestra, but for all of his emoting on the podium, he leads the orchestra through a secure performance of the mad jumble of 'Forza's vengeful nobility, pilgrims, muleteers, war-mongering gypsies, brawling soldiers, and quarrelsome monks.My favorite scenes in the production take place when the action moves out into the noisy, crowded inn, the monastery, the brawling army camp. The Kirov (Mariinsky) chorus gives us piety, patriotic ardor, the melancholy brought about by war and starvation, and even laughter. The comprimario roles are well cast and the singers paint minor masterpieces on a sprawling canvas. I never realized how truly 'Russian' this Italian opera could be until I watched and listened to the chorus on this DVD. Keep an eye for the gold-toothed monk!Brian Large is listed as the video director for this DVD. I'm not sure what this means, but I wish it meant that he had paid more attention to keeping the video in synch with the audio. In the final dueling scene between Alvaro and Carlo, the audio seems completely disconnected from the action on stage. I was so annoyed I had to subtract a star."
Well staged, attractive 1862 version
D. Smith | Toronto, ON Canada | 10/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This production is VERY attractive and the image quality is very high. The sets are attractive and the lighting is good, unlike many operas discs I have seen.
Melitone is somewhat over the top, but I think that's how he's supposed to be. I found Preziosilla to have a very Russian sound. The crowd and army scenes are well done, especially the inn scene when Carlos is introduced.
I tried not to be distracted by the appearance of the male leads, Carlos and Alvaro. It's hard to take a pot-bellied, balding man seriously as a love object for a young woman. Alvaro looked like Tweedledee and finally looked like he was in the correct costume when he appeared in monk's garb! However I enjoyed his singing very much, as long as I didn't think about looks matching the part.
Though I prefer Verdi's revisions and think we should honour his intentions (i.e., revisions), it was interesting to see his early ideas for this opera, and we get more tenor singing in this version than in the revised one, which I am glad to hear. I would not buy this version for your only Forza, since it's not Verdi's APPROVED version, but for a second one, I like it."
I. Martinez-Ybor | Miami, FL USA | 09/12/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It is interesting to have available Verdi's first version of Forza, if only to realize how much stronger the opera became once revised. Textual differences have been described by other reviewers so there's no need to belabor points with which I'm in agreement.
As to the realization, I find this DVD most disconcerting. It gives me the impression that I am watching one performance and hearing another. There is a most annoying lapse in synchronization: the image is about one full beat behind the sound, beginning to end. It makes the whole performance suspect, as if we are watching lypsinching to the commercial recording (I believe on Philips) by these same forces, sandwiched by shots of Gergiev and the orchestra in an actual live performance with an audience present, and canned applause at the appropriate spots. I have no inside knowledge that this was the case, but such is the impression which remains.
Musically and vocally, all the men are fine to disguished, the Preziozilla is quite wonderful, but Gorchakova just lacks the legato, or what could be worse, the musicality, to propel the long, soaring phrases Verdi gives Leonora. Unfortunately for her, many great singers have recorded Leonora's music, beginning with the unsurpassed Ponselle; Gorchakova does not belong in their company. That's a big hole that no other virtue in the performance can fill. The reviewer who praised her "Vergine degli Angeli" should listen it again more carefully.
An interesting note: decors are based on those for the original production supervised by Verdi himself.
In summary, if you are interested in hearing Verdi's first version of Forza, get the CD. Well, if you want to see the original Roller backdrops (nothing remarkable), get the DVD. But do not watch it too closely as the lack of coordination between sound and lips is quite annoying, and there is that bizarre feeling that singers are not really singing in what purports to be an actual stage performance (patently obvious with the chorus).
George Khelashvili | Chicago, IL United States | 04/17/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I decided to review this DVD because I think that the Original version of "La Forza Del Destino" presented on this recording clearly is much weaker than the updated one. This is why I love Verdi and this is why he is geniuous: first version of "la forza" is not as nearly impressive as Verdi's other masterpieces, like "Rigoletto", "Il Trovatore", "Traviata". It clearly lacks the line and for me it seems very separated. So what Verdi did is that he revised his work: first of all he changed Overture, which became a masterpiece. Than he just removed several lines in the duets between Leonora and Alvaro (I act), Leonora and Padre (II act) and finally he completely revised tha last scene, which now is one of my favourite moments in the opera. So I want to say that although the singing and conducting on this recording is superb, the whole music, the whole opera is not impressive whereas revised version of "la forza" I think can be considered as masterpiece alongside with Verdis' other operas. My suggestion is if this is your first time listening to "la forza", listen to old recording featuring Correli, Tebaldi, Bastianini. That one is the best!"
The Force Is With Us!
Owen Rachleff | St Petersburg, FL | 09/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The original Marinsky Forza is presented in a new DVD under the brilliant baton of Valery Gergiev. This offering contains every jot of music that Verdi wrote for this unusual opera. It also contains many of the dramatic scenes cut from all productions of FORZA in recent times. Some of these scenes are a bit egrigious. Most shocking of these additions is the suicide by drowning of Don Alvaro. The three principals are splended in their energy and naturalistic perforemance. The tenor is a slavic version of a young Pavarotti. I would highly recommend this DVD!"