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Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, September 2012

This DVD video recording is, in its way, an historic document. It is quite distinct from the various other recordings available in the medium…

Verdi poured great intensity and creativity into this work of his mature compositional period, and the opera contains scenes, arias and duets that are included amongst his finest music.

The sets are quite magnificent and atmospheric. With period costumes designed by Peter J Hall, gimmick-free direction by Elijah Moshinsky and idiomatic and dramatic conducting by Valery Gergiev this has the makings of a performance to savour. The singers largely match these virtues…Gegam Grigorian as Alvaro sings with wide dynamic, full ringing tone and no little vocal grace in his demanding music…Although his fated lover, Leonora, gets quite a long rest after her big sing in acts one and two it is a role that requires a full spinto voice. It demands a wide range of expression and colour along with the ability to hold a legato line in the flowing cantilena of the La Vergine degli angeli that concludes act two…and the more dramatic Pace, pace, mio Dio in act four…In this performance Galina Gorchakova fulfils all expectations and hopes admirably with full tone and good Italian nuance to her phrasing.

This original 1862 St Petersburg version has several significant differences to the later revision premiered at La Scala in 1869, not 1867 as stated in the booklet essay (p9). Although two audio versions exist of this original version, this DVD should have pride of place over either in a Verdi collection. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Eric Myers
Opera News, September 2012

For this historic production by Elijah Moshinsky, designer Andrei Voitenko based the sets on the 1862 originals by Andreas Roller. Night scenes are awash in blue moonlight and always present a prominently placed full-moon; backdrops are towering, lavish and evocatively artificial. The final scene outside Leonora’s cave even has a painted waterfall. Brian Large’s effective video rendering of the performance precedes each scene with Roller’s corresponding original pen-and-ink sketch, which dissolves into the stage set. It’s about as traditional a production of this opera as one will ever see, at times putting one pleasantly in mind of illustrations from early editions of The Victor Book of the Opera.

Galina Gorchakova brings full, ripe spinto sound to Leonora throughout her range, with a particularly powerful chest register. She gives a highly committed performance. © 2012 Opera News Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, September 2012

This is a famous production of La forza del destino in which conductor Valery Gergiev and set designer Andrei Voitenko, copying the original 1862 work of Andreas Roller, present the original version of the opera.

As for the performance, it is very similar to the CD recording with one major difference. Whereas the CD was made in a peculiarly sound-dead studio, which makes everyone’s voice die out (decay) at a rapid rate and lends a sterile quality to it, this stage version is really alive and vibrant. The major beneficiary of the greater space around the voices is soprano Galina Gorchakova. She really does not have soft high notes…but she has a dramatic bite in her voice…I am very impressed with her voice as much as her phrasing and dramatic interpretation; it has a rich, sumptuous sound with an excellent low range (she might even be a pushed-up mezzo), yet her high notes have bite and ring.

This may be gothic melodrama, but if performed well it’s good gothic melodrama, and by and large this cast is excellent. Gorchakova may not be Callas or Mattila as a stage actress, but she conveys Leonora’s angst and haunted nature appropriately; likewise Gegam Grigorian as Alvaro…his performance has tremendous integrity and his wonderfully bright, knife-like tenor voice is reminiscent of Veriano Luchetti. Nikolai Putilin, of course, is one of our era’s great singing actors, and he does not disappoint here as Carlo. Tarasova acts the role of Preziosilla as well as she sings it, and Georgy Zastavny is a pretty good Melitone.

One of the most interesting aspects of this production is that it not only uses the original score but reproduces, to a large extent, the original 1862 set designs of Andreas Roller. Brian Large, an experienced and savvy TV director of opera performances, gives us an excellent visual record of this production. Gergiev manages to keep the musical flow of the opera going while imparting a dark orchestral tone to the score.

I have no reservations whatsoever in recommending this as a superb video Forza. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

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