Sun 6 Jan 2013
2013 marks two centuries since the birth of Giuseppe Verdi and the opera lovers all over the world will see a lot of staging of his operas in the current season. The New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv is no exception with three new stagings scheduled until the end of the season. The first one is the lesser known Luisa Miller.
Luisa Miller is based a romantic drama by Friedrich Schiller, although the German background of the story stops more or less here and in some of the names of the characters. It’s a story of love and passion, of treason and social passion, with an ending that reminds Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The difficulty of some of the parts in the musical score may be one of the reasons this opera is less popular, because otherwise it has all the dramatic qualities as well as a number of very beautiful musical sections that allows it to be compared and comparable with the best known works of the composer.
The staging at the Tel Aviv Opera is a revival of a classical staging by director Gotz Friedrich (1030-2000) and uses sets from the Berlin Deutsche Oper. I did not resonate to well with some of the directorial ideas, the combination between the chess table floor and the painted Alps landscape in the background did not make too much sense to me, neither the usage of commedia dell’arte clowns as filling actors. Fortunately it was the musical performance that was above average this time. The orchestra always sounds better when conducted by Daniel Oren, and so it did now. Luisa Miller was sang so well by American soprano Leah Crocetto that she made me forget regretting having missed the Romanian Aurelia Florian, and Ionut Pascu was superb (vocally and as stage presence) as her father.
Researching a little for famous recordings available on the Internet allowed me an interesting comparison between two ot the greatest tenors ever. First is a version (sung in concert, only with piano) of one of the most beautiful areas by Pavarotti.
Now you can compare Pavarotti’s version with Domingo’s. Here is the first act of the opera as staged in London in 1979 with Katia Ricciarelli and Placido Domingo.