Review by: Robert Levine
Artistic Quality: 8
Sound Quality: 8
Taken live from the stage of the Macerata (Italy) Festival in July and August of 2016, this performance has much to recommend it despite the fact that none of the singers are familiar names. This is the kind of regional performance that the big American companies should be listening to.
Never having heard of the soprano singing Leonora, Anna Pirozzi, I checked Operabase and discovered that she sings all over Europe–plenty at Covent Garden–and that her repertoire is all of the heavy Verdi roles: Abigaille, Lady Macbeth, Aida, Amelia, and Leonora. I wouldn’t bet on her Abigaille or Lady Macbeth, but her performance here is nothing less than spectacular.
The voice is big, with a rock-solid middle register, a steely edge to the high Bs, Cs, and D-flats, and a strong bottom, which avoids chest voice for the most part. But she also can spin long, high pianissimo phrases with a Caballé-like ease. The sound is attractive (though not in the Caballé class), her Convent Scene is a model of soft, legato singing, and her entire fourth act is nothing less than magnificent. And she throws herself into the text.
Marco Caria is a very good Luna with great ease in his upper third, a fine legato, and a nice sneer. But the voice, even on a recording, sounds a bit small for the part, and when he pushes for a bigger sound the microphones catch it and he sounds a bit desperate. But for the most part, he’s a valuable addition, a true Italian voice.
Piero Pretti as Manrico is a big lyric whose schedule includes Riccardo (Ballo), Rodolfo (Bohème), and Gualtiero (Pirata), as well as more Manricos, through September 2018. The sound is appealing and well-centered, the high notes–he takes “Di quella pira” in key–admirable and solid. But he’s a size too small for the part. He’s inaudible in the stretta to the first-act finale as well as in his duets with Azucena. And in the final scene, when he should be overpowering Leonora, he simply isn’t. Try him, you’ll like him, but think of Manricos of the past and he’s a miniature.
Enkelejda Shkosa is a more internationally known singer. Her Azucena is just about perfect despite a too-quick “Stride la vampa”; Azucena’s extreme anxiety is audible throughout. Shkosa’s third act is gloriously sung, and if the conductor and recording engineers had opted for more volume it would have torn down the house. The others are all very good, paying heed to what they’re singing, and Alessandro Spina’s Ferrando is solid.
Daneil Oren’s leadership has to be judged by the fact that this was recorded over a period of a few performances, and accordingly voice/orchestra balances vary from scene to scene. And in the Tower Scene, Manrico sounds like he is standing next to Leonora. Nonetheless, Oren totally understands mid-Verdi and differentiates beautifully between the exclamatory and, for want of a better term, “post bel canto” moments in the score. He gives the singers leeway in the arias but keeps a tight rein otherwise. The sound is clear, but as mentioned, the volume levels keep changing.
In all, though–and this is the point of even reviewing this recording–aside from Netrebko’s recent outing, this is the best Trovatore to be released in quite a while. There is, by the way, a DVD and Blu-ray video of this performance. It is all in reds and blacks, with plenty of fire. The look is gothic.
Buy Now from Arkiv Music
- VERDI, GIUSEPPE:Il trovatore
- Piero Pretti (tenor); Anna Pirozzi (soprano); Enkelejda Shkosa (mezzo-soprano); Marco Caria (baritone); Alessandro Spina (bass)
Fondazione Orchestra Regionale delle Marche, Coro "Vincenzo Bellini", Daniel Oren
- Dynamic - 7769.02