Giv Cornfield, Ph.D.
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics
, August 2007
The three operas listed come as a set, and will be reviewed separately.
The first time I ever saw Il Trovatore was in a black and white Italian-made film version starring Tito Gobbi, around 1950. Even under those reduced circumstances, the powerful drama and deep commitment of the artists to their roles left an indelible impression. This version dates I believe from 2002, and features soloists from the Teatro Real in Madrid, along with a British chorus, orchestra and conductor. Overall, it's a lavish production, but underlit so one has to strain most of the time to see the action. Some of the male leads sing with an excessively wide vibrato, but none are ever less than adequate. Outstanding in their roles are Dmitri Hvorostovsky as the Count di Luna, and Yvonne Naef as Azucena. What I liked most about this performance, though, was the quality of the recording, not only of the soloists and chorus, but of the orchestra, so ably conducted by Carlo Rizzi. Verdi's orchestration is rich, and deserves the attention it's given here.