Sunday, August 4, 2013

THE FORCE OF DESTINY - Giuseppe Verdi


Opera Australia – Sydney Opera House - June 29th to July 23rd 2013

Performance 17th July 2013 reviewed by Bill Stephens

 
Svetlana Vassileva as Leonora
Photo: Prudence Upton


The sheer grandeur of Tama Matheson's vision for his production of Verdi’s “The Force of Destiny" is what impresses most. Death is everywhere, even in the skull-like makeup of some of the characters, but the opera never gets depressing, as we follow the trials and tribulations of Leonora and Don Alvaro from their wealthy Spanish homes, through the battlefields of the Spanish and Italian armies to caves above some god-forsaken monastery, with no hope a happy ending in sight.

The opera is a long sit, running from 7.30pm until 11.15pm on the night I saw it, but there is never a dull moment as Mark Thomson’s great set-pieces fly in and out, armies appear and are dissipated before our eyes, and masses of gorgeous costumes abound, ranging from magnificent Spanish court wear to dusty peasant’s rags.  


Svetlana Vassileva as Leonora
Photo: Prudence Upton

The singing is exquisite throughout, with the beautiful Bulgarian soprano, Svetla Vassileva quite stunning as the doomed Leonora, superbly matched by the handsome Italian tenor Riccardo Massi as her lover Don Alvaro. Italian bass Giacomo Prestia also impressed as the dignified padre Guardiano and Jonathan Summers was a wonderfully menacing Don Carlo. It was also fascinating to see Rinat Shaham, fresh from her magnificent turn as “Carmen” in the Handa Opera on the Harbour, adding her magnificent voice and presence in the usually small role of the gypsy Preziosilla.

(An edited version of this review was broadcast in "Dress Circle" on Artsound FM 92.7 on 21.7.13)


Richard Anderson as
Svetla Vassileva as Leonora


Svetlana Vassileva as Leonora
Riccardo Massi as Don Alvaro
Photo: Prudence Upton

 
 

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