BWW Review: VERDI SPECTACULAR at Adelaide Town Hall
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Tuesday 21st November 2017.
Giuseppe Verdi. The name immediately conjures thoughts of his many great operas, the epitome of Grand Opera, each filled with wonderful music. Anybody tasked with creating a concert titled Verdi Spectacular has such a vast quantity of music from which to choose and, even with close to two and a half hours available, only a tiny part of Verdi's output can be included. This concert covered many of his operas, with one favourite piece after another in rapid succession.
The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, under conductor, Stephen Mould, began the concert with the exciting overture from La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny). Mould showed a clear love of the music, bringing out the subtleties of the scores, to which the orchestra responded with a stunning performance, the start of an evening of the best of orchestral work. This was greeted with enthusiastic applause, which became a feature of the evening, and led into the first aria, with soprano, Giséle Blanchard, singing Sempre Libera (always free), Violetta's joyous statement that closes Act 1 of La Traviata. Blanchard gave a sparkling rendition of the piece, filling it with life.
Baritone, Mario Bellanova, then took on the role of the villainous, Iago, with the Credo from Otello, a dark contrast to the previous selection. Bellanova brought the full gravitas of the role to the fore in a superb rendition.
The Anvil Chorus, from Il Trovatore, marked the first appearance of the State Opera Chorus for the evening. This chorus is always welcome due to the extremely high quality of their work, and it is not surprising that each of them can be found occasionally in solo, and even principal roles. Naturally, more overwhelming applause followed this segment.
The wonderful mezzo-soprano, Elizabeth Campbell, stayed with Il Trovatore in the role of Azucena, with a remarkable version of Condotta ell'era in ceppi.
Tenor, Bradley Daley took on the role of the Duke, from Rigoletto, delighting everybody with his marvellous interpretation of La Donna e mobile, an aria that always pleases. This, naturally, gave Giséle Blanchard the right of reply, wonderful as Gilda, with Caro name, from the same opera. They provided the two sides to the sad tale, he espouses the idea that women are inconsistent, she deeply committed to her love.
Mario Bellanova returned with Ford's aria, È sogno? o realtà?, a sobering moment from the comedy, Falstaff, when he becomes aware that Falstaff is trying to seduce his wife, and close to succeeding. Bellanova gave us the shock, the dismay, and the fury, as Ford processes the bad news, in a powerful performance.
Dio, che nell'alma infondere, from the second act of the five-act opera, Don Carlo, saw the return of Bradley Daley, as Don Carlos, and the introduction of baritone, Jeremy Tatchell, as his good friend, Rodrigo. Carlos is devastated, as the woman whom he loves, Elisabeth, has married his father, a political expediency to secure peace between Spain and France. Rodrigo consoles him and they swear eternal friendship. This is one of Verdi's finest male duets, and these two singers offered a sensational performance.
Back to La Traviata and brindisi (the drinking song), bringing together Giséle Blanchard and Bradley Daley, along with the State Opera Chorus, for a rousing close to the first half, and add a subliminal suggestion that we all head to the bar for a glass of sparkling wine during the interval.
All of the singers and the chorus appeared again in the second half, with the addition of soprano, Teresa La Rocca who opened it magnificently in the role of Amelia, with Ecco l'orrido campo...Ma dall'arido stelo divulsa, from Un Ballo In Maschera (A Masked Ball).
Tenor, Norbert Hohl, then made an appearance, with Bradley Daly, as Macduff and Malcolm as they prepare to attack Dunsinane Castle using tree branches from Birnam Wood as camouflage, Macduff singing of his desire for revenge in Ah, la paterno mano (Ah, the paternal hand), from Macbetto (Macbeth), with the chorus joining in on their duet, as Malcolm's English Army, with La patria tradita (Our country betrayed). This was one of the most stirring pieces of the evening.
More sensational examples of Verdi's music were to follow, with these top fight singers showing their versatility and incredible talent. The finest orchestra, finest opera chorus, and some of the finest soloists, presenting an entire concert of Verdi's music, what more could you want? The concert will be repeated on Wednesday at 6:30 and, if you are very quick, and very lucky, there might still be a few tickets left.