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VERDI: La Forza del Destino

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GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901)

La Forza del Destino

‘We believe that La forza del destino is the most complete of all Verdi’s works, in the richness and inspiration of its melodies, as in its development and orchestration’.

Le journal de Saint-Pétersbourg, November 1862

It is difficult to imagine Verdi, that most musically energetic of nineteenth century Italian composers, retiring to his country estate and taking enthusiastically to agriculture; but after the success of Un ballo in maschera in 1859 he went into temporary retirement and seemed to relish a quieter life. For a while, none of the offers that he received from European opera houses appealed to him and he was content to wait for a really challenging commission; it was not until December 1860 that the right approach was made. Enrico Tamberlik, a tenor who had already sung with great success throughout Europe in several of Verdi’s earlier operas, wrote from St Petersburg urging the composer to consider a new work for the Imperial Theatre there. This was the invitation that Verdi had been waiting for and he was soon offering suggestions for suitable subjects. In due course the theatre management accepted an adaptation of Angel Saavedra’s play Don Alvaro, o la fuerza del sino of 1835 and, even though it may not have been explicit, Tamberlik expected a splendid part for himself in the new opera — and got it. Once the matter was decided, Verdi composed energetically and in September 1862 he and his wife, Giuseppina Strepponi, made their way to St Petersburg to take charge of rehearsals.

For all the initial enthusiasm with which La forza del destino was greeted, it proved not to be one of Verdi’s greatest successes and he realised that revisions were necessary. He eventually undertook them, ready for a new production at La Scala, Milan, in 1869, though, prior to that, performances of the earlier version had already been given in London, Rome, Madrid and New York. It was not so much the opera’s length that caused concern - of the whole of Verdi’s œuvre it is the second longest, next only to Don Carlos — but principally that the composer was keen to alter sections of the third act and the horrifyingly tragic fourth act, at the close of which the three protagonists all meet their deaths. In the revised version Don Alvaro survives, having killed Carlo, who, in turn, fatally stabs his sister Leonora — only a little less grim than the original. One other improvement was Verdi’s replacement of the short prelude with a new dramatic overture, which is now equally familiar as a concert piece. The revisions brought the success for which Verdi strove and La forza del destino has since been given many memorable productions, even if its popularity has never rivaled that of some of his more tightly constructed and melodic operas. It was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 1918 with Rosa Ponselle, Enrico Caruso and Giuseppe di Luca, but at Covent Garden not until 1931, when Ponselle sang with Aureliano Pertile and Benvenuto Franci.

This is the earliest ‘complete’ commercial recording made of La forza del destino, although it suffers from the cuts frequently made in performances of those days; the main loss is the scene for tenor and baritone in Act 3, which incorporates the duet Sleale! Il segreto fu dunque violato? Nevertheless, the choice of principals could scarcely have been bettered in 1940s Italy and, under Maestro Marinuzzi, they create a fine sense of ensemble throughout, despite the disruption that recording in four-minute sections on 78s must have caused. More vividly than many of its ‘complete’ successors on disc, this Forza conveys the theatricality of its subject, which so appealed to Verdi and, fortunately, tempted him out of his rustic retirement.

La forza del destino was first performed on 10th November (29th October Russian style) 1862 at the Imperial Theatre, St Petersburg. The revised version was staged on 27th February 1869 at La Scala, Milan.

Born in 1905, the Neapolitan soprano Maria Caniglia made her début at the age of 25. She then sang regularly at La Scala, Milan, her final performances there being in 1951. Caniglia appeared at the Metropolitan in 1938/9 and at Covent Garden both before the war and during the 1950 La Scala visit. She created rôles in contemporary operas, but was best heard in nineteenth century lyric/dramatic Italian repertory and verismo. Her recordings, including complete performances of Tosca, Aida, Un ballo in maschera and Verdi’s Requiem, show a rich, dramatic voice, occasionally imperfect in intonation but undeniably exciting. Caniglia died in 1979.

Galliano Masini was born in 1896 in Livorno, and made his début there as Cavaradossi. He first sang in Rome in 1930, appearing there regularly for many years. He sang at La Scala from 1932 and undertook five seasons in South American opera houses. Masini’s first appearances at the Verona Arena in 1935 were followed by performances in Chicago and at the Met, where he sang in Aida, Lucia di Lammermoor, Tosca and La Bohème. In 1946 Masini sang Radames in the first production at the Caracalla Baths in Rome and he retired in 1957. He died in 1986.

Ebe Stignani was born in Naples in 1903, made her operatic début there at the age of 22 and triumphed as one of the world’s leading dramatic mezzos until retirement in 1958. Toscanini engaged her for La Scala in 1926, after which she sang extensively throughout Italy and Europe. Visits to the Americas in the 1930s and after the war consolidated her supremacy in nineteenth century Italian opera, whilst her repertoire also included rôles by Gluck, Wagner and Bizet. Stignani is particularly remembered for her performances in Norma with Callas at Covent Garden and elsewhere. She died in 1974.

Carlo Tagliabue, born in 1898, studied in Milan and made his début in Lodi in 1922. After performances in Genoa in 1924 he appeared in Lisbon and at La Scala, where he sang for over twenty years. Tagliabue created rôles in several contemporary operas and was a regular principal at Verona Arena; he visited Buenos Aires, New York, San Francisco and London, being particularly admired in Verdi and several Wagnerian rôles. In 1953 he returned to London’s Stoll Theatre in Forza, which he later recorded with Callas. Tagliabue retired to teach in 1958 and died in Monza in 1978.

Gino Marinuzzi, a native Sicilian, was born in 1882. He attended Palermo Conservatory, first conducted opera there in 1901 and worked extensively throughout Italy, Spain and Argentina, giving the local première of Parsifal at the Colón in 1913. In 1917 Marinuzzi conducted the first performance of Puccini’s La rondine in Monte Carlo and accepted important musical posts successively in Bologna, Chicago, Rome and Milan. A fine composer, he wrote a Requiem Mass and three operas and made a handful of operatic discs, La forza del destino being his only complete recording.


CD 1

1 The Sinfonia opens with the repeated three-note Fate motif that is to return in the opera. Other elements are taken from the final duet of Alvaro and Carlo. from Leonora’s second act prayer Madre, pietosa Vergine and from her duet with the Padre Guardiano.

Act 1

2 The curtain rises on a room in the house of the Marchese di Calatrava in Seville. His daughter Leonora is preoccupied, as the Marchese enters to bid her goodnight. He asks why she is so sad, but she cannot answer, as he goes to his own room.

Item number 8110206-07
Barcode 636943120620
Release date 01/05/2002
Label Naxos Historical
Media type CD
Number of units 2
Artists Carlo Tagliabue
Maria Caniglia
Tancredi Pasero
Composers Giuseppe Verdi
Conductors Gino Marinuzzi
Orchestras RAI Chorus, Turin
RAI Symphony Orchestra
Producers Ward Marston
Disc: 1
La forza del destino
1 Sinfonia
2 Act I: Buona notte, mia figlia
3 Act I: Ternea restasse qui fino a domani!
4 Act I: Me pellgrina ed orfana
5 Act I: M aiuti, signorina, piu presto andrem
6 Act I: Ah, per sempre, o mio bell'angiol
7 Act I: Vil seduttor! Infame figlia!
8 Act II: Scene 1 - Hola, hola, hola! Ben giungi, o
9 Act II: Scene 1 - La cena e pronta
10 Act II: Scene 1 - Che vedo! Mio fratello!
11 Act II: Scene 1 - Viva la guerra!
12 Act II: Scene 1 - Al suon del tamburo
13 Act II: Scene 1 - Padre Eterno Signor
14 Act II: Scene 1 - Viva la buona compagnia!
15 Act II: Scene 1 - Poich imberbe l'incognito
16 Act II: Scene 1 - Son Pereda, son ricco d'onore
17 Act II: Scene 1 - Sta bene
18 Act II: Scene 2 - Sono giunta! Grazie, o Dio!
19 Act II: Scene 2 - Madre, pietosa Vergine
20 Act II: Scene 2 - Chi siete?
21 Act II: Scene 2 - Chi mi cerca?
22 Act II: Scene 2 - Infelice, delusa, rejetta
23 Act II: Scene 2 - Il santo nome de Dio Signore sia
24 Act II: Scene 2 - La Vergine degli Angeli
Disc: 2
La forza del destino
1 Act III: Scene 1 - Attenti al gioco, attenti, atte
2 Act III: Scene 1 - La vita inferno all'infelice
3 Act III: Scene 1 - O tu che in seno agli angeli
4 Act III: Scene 1 - Al tradimento!
5 Act III: Scene 1 - All armi!
6 Act III: Scene 2 - Piano qui posi...approntisi il
7 Act III: Scene 2 - Solenne in quest ora
8 Act III: Scene 2 - Morir! Tremenda cosa!
9 Act III: Scene 2 - Urna fatale del mio destino
10 Act III: Scene 2 - Es altra prova rinvenir potessi
11 Act III: Scene 3 - Compagni, sostiamo
12 Act III: Scene 3 - Lorch pifferi e tamburi par che
13 Act III: Scene 3 - Qua, vivandiere, un sorso
14 Act III: Scene 3 - A buon mercato chi vuol comprar
15 Act III: Scene 3 - Pane, pan per carit!
16 Act III: Scene 3 - Nella guerra e la follia
17 Act III: Scene 3 - Toh! Toh! Poffare il mondo! Che
18 Act III: Scene 3 - Rataplan, rataplan, della glori
19 Act IV: Scene 1 - Fate la carita, e un'ora che asp
20 Act IV: Scene 1 - Guinge qualcuno, aprite
21 Act IV: Scene 1 - Invano Alvaro ti celasti al mond
22 Act IV: Scene 1 - Le Minaccie, i fieri accenti
23 Act IV: Scene 2 - Pace, pace mio Dio!
24 Act IV: Scene 2 - Io muoio! Confessione!
25 Act IV: Scene 2 - Non imprecare, umiliati a Lui ch
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