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Verdi - Oberto

Oberto – Ildar Abdrazakov
Leonora – Evelyn Herlitzuis
Riccardo – Carlo Ventre
Cuniza – Marianne Cornetti
Imelda – Nuria Lorenzo

Musical Director – Yves Abel
Stage Director – Ignacio Garcia
Designer – Domenico Franchi
TV Director – Angel Luis Ramirez

Recorded at Palacio Euskalduna de Bilbao, January 2007

Opus Arte DVD OA 0982 D [152 minutes]

Here we have Verdi’s first opera, written at the age of 26, in the fashionable style set down by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. There are plentiful rough edges, but already the traits that made Verdi such a great dramatic composer are showing through. In a plot with all the uncontrolled melodrama of its day we can still feel that Verdi’s characters are real people expressing genuine emotion, and it’s his gift for quick changes of mood, for example following a lustily militaristic chorus with a grieving lament, that is so effective with the juxtaposition emphasising each sentiment.

Designer Domenico Franchi has caught just the right feeling of gothic romanticism; simple medieval costumes, sets that mirror the landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, roses which entwine the ruined pillars and which shower the cast with blood-red petals in the finale.

Leonora, sung dramatically by Evelyn Herlitzius, is a heroine clearly bent on self destruction. She storms her way through a tale of honour, betrayal, revenge and despair to one of the bloodiest of endings to be found on stage – though under the sensitive direction of Ignacio Garcia it never steps beyond the limits of romantic fiction.

Carlo Ventre’s Riccardo struggles to find the glamour of a dashing hero. Whilst singing with strength and sweetness, Marianne Cornetti’s charmless Cuniza is never going to get her man.

The real honours go to Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role, for a fine portrayal of Leonora’s noble father. His aria L’orror del tradimento is the most memorable singing of the evening.

Whilst this is an opera that was clearly never set for a permanent place in the repertoire, it deserves an airing, and this production serves it well.

Serena Fenwick