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Verdi: La Forza del Destino

Donna Leonora Gweneth-Ann Jeffers with Don Alvaro Peter Auty [pictured, OHP]
Don Carlo di Vargas Mark Stone
Preziosilla Carole Wilson
Il Padre Guardiano Mikhail Svetlov
Fra Melitone Donald Maxwell

Opera Holland Park Chorus/City of London Sinfonia/Stuart Stratford
Director: Martin Duncan
Set Designs & Costumes: Alison Chitty
Lighting: Mark Jonathan

Martin Duncan – Director
Alison Chitty – Designer
Mark Jonathan – Lighting Designer
Paul Kitson – Choreographer

Holland Park Theatre, Kensington, London July 27, 2010

This new production of one of Verdi's largest, longest and least satisfactory operas fell between stools - or kitchen chairs, upon which Alison Chitty overly depended - 'chairs everywhere, including being suspended from the ceiling for no discernible reason' [Classical Source]. Director Martin Duncan's staging budget must have been minimal. One hopes that newcomers to opera being wooed with free tickets for Zandonai at Holland Park will not be confronted with something so drab as the minimally adorned first scene. Inevitably the casting fell short of the "four greatest singers in the world" which Caruso said is all it takes for successful performance of Il Trovatore.

The plot(s) felt even more confused than usual, the crowd scenes with large chorus were the least convincing. All in all one was left with serious doubts about Verdi having accepted the de Saavedra/Piave libretto with which he was saddled. And OHP ought to have considered a 7 p.m. start for this uncut version.

The singing was from decent to just adequate, things decidedly better after the interval. Jeffers made a very good shot at Verdi's Leonora, rough in patches on the first night, but showing great promise. She was badly handicapped by Chitty's eccentric costuming, as were others too, such as Carole Wilson's under-parted Preziosilla. Best musically was the orchestra under the ever-reliable Stuart Stratford, a regular favourite at OHP; they gave us many of the more memorable moments.

Peter Grahame Woolf

The Times is no longer available on-line except to subscribers; I therefore copy their review of Forza here:

It was interesting to return to the Kirov/Gergiev/Moshinsky version which we had reviewed for The Opera Critic 2002, and which proved to hold our interest and attention upon re-visiting years on, a welcome restorative :-