The magical nights of the opera are celebrated outdoors in the Verona Arena with a capacity of 100 copies

Baritone Luca Salsi (center) during the first act of “Rigoletto”, last Thursday at the Verona Arena.Ennevi

“A storm is coming! … the night will be darker.” These words, sung by the murderer Sparafucile, sounded almost like an incantation, on the 20th of July, in Verona square. Suddenly, the Italian city skyline allied itself with the opera Rigolettol Giuseppe Verdi. Real and imaginary flashes were confused. The breeze began to caress the thousands of spectators in the Roman amphitheater to the sound of statues of flutes and piccolo. And the rumble of a low string, combined with the chromatic murmur of the choir with its mouth closed, which imitates the onset of a storm offstage, gives way to the first raindrops. Acting merged with reality.

We are living one of those magical moments of outdoor opera nights Verona square. A summer festival celebrating its 100th year this year with six emblematic revivals of the past three decades, from productions by Rossini, Bizet, Verdi and Puccini, and two new Aida y Rigoletto. A legendary lyrical event created in 1913, the year of Verdi’s centenary, by the Veronese tenor Giovanni Zenatello and located in one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters in Europe. A parade of great voices and huge stage productions interrupted by two world wars and a pandemic.

The current mayor of the city, Veronese soprano Cecilia Gasdia, has restored three productions of the Franco Zeffirelli To celebrate the centenary of the celebrity stage director He passed away four years ago. It comes to Carmenwith which he debuted on Late Late Arena, in 1995, which featured Jasdia herself as Michaela. but also Madama Butterflyreleased in 2004, and Traviata Posthumously, from 2019. Two productions by Hugo de Ana, with his fiction The Barber of Sevillefrom 2007, in an 18th-century garden of giant flowers next to her huge Toscafrom 2006. And the list of reboots ends with Nabucco Already a classic, by Gianfranco de Bosio, which premiered in 1991 and has returned to Veronese Coliseum on several occasions.

All the sets can be seen disassembled, on days when there is no performance, around the Arena and Piazza Bra. Including the two new ones created by Stefano Boda and Antonio Albanese. future vision for Aida, from the first, which reflects the noisy and intimate world of Verdi’s operas with a giant hand representing human strength. A simple departure from Rigoletto, in which Albanese evokes Italian neorealist cinema. An attractive way to combine the present, the past and the future, as Gasdia explained in his brief presentation in the book program of the festival entitled in Italian 100 times the first time.

The first chapter started
The first act of “Rigoletto” kicked off last Thursday at the Verona Arena.Ennevi

This post also mentions the acoustic extravaganza associated with this festival, with a brief section dedicated to the centenary of the Maria Callas. Not only did the Greek-American triumph in her 1947 debut, singing Giocondafrom Ponchielli, when she was still unknown, but here she met her future husband and industrial director Veronese Giovanni Battista Meneghini. Then he returned in the fifties to sing TraviataAnd Aida s troubadour. This connection between the festival and the lyric stars has intensified in recent editions. Among the many casts that include sopranos such as Anna Netrebko, Nadine Sierra, Lisette Oropesa, and Sonia Yoncheva, the first appearance of Asmik Grigoryan has been added. The tenor list includes Roberto Alagna and Vittorio Grigolo, but also ensemble appearances Juan Diego Florez and Piotr Piczala. And on the baritone strings there will be no shortage of great specialists from Verdi such as Luca Salci and Ludovic Tessier.

There is also a place to spend evenings with great stars in the ring, such as the aforementioned Flórez or Jonas Kaufmann, but Plácido Domingo will also be honored on August 6. The choir and orchestra of Milan’s La Scala Theater will visit the Veronese Amphitheater for the first time with Riccardo Chili. There was even a ballet starring the dancer Roberto Paul, On July 19, which did not stop, despite another severe storm. In fact, the Italian dancer faced his last performance alone with a title sphereDownpour led to another magical moment on stage.

On the contrary, the rain had to interrupt a job Rigoletto, on July 20, in the final part of the third act. It seemed that Gilda, dressed in a man’s dress, would not give up her life to save the Duke of Mantua. Twenty minutes later, however, after the operators had intervened to dry the stage, we saw Sparafucile stab the young woman. And we witness a frightening interpretation of The final scene and duet From the opera where Rigoletto discovers his dying daughter inside a sack.

Baritone Luca Salsi and soprano Giuliana Mazzola at the end
Baritone Luca Salsi and soprano Giuliana Mazzola at the end of “Rigoletto”, last Thursday at the Verona Arena.Ennevi

In the final minutes, baritone Luke Salsey He wrapped up his powerful image of the Verdi clown, even becoming the big winner of the night. But when singing “What a mysterious night! A storm in the sky…and a murder on the ground…!”, the flashes returned above our heads. A downpour also heightens the tension in the final pages of the score. Salsi displayed a flexible voice, perfect for being heard in the immensity of the arena. Its timbre is not particularly beautiful, but it is very sexy. And he brings to life with imagination the inflections and nuances of the score, which he knows how to spice up to an excellent degree Legato. His interpretation of the recitation scene We are equal It was perfect

The main attraction of the job was the debut in Verona of the tenor Juan Diego Florez. He faced the elusive Duke of Mantua, who had already auditioned in Dresden, in 2008, and later canceled at Teatro Real Madrid, the following year. Then he confirmed that he would not sing it again until after 10 or 15 years, although he had returned to it a few years earlier at the Vienna State Opera. In Verona, the Peruvian began almost inaudible in the poem This or that. His light, even canto vocals continue to mesh poorly with the demanding metal of Verdi, but his maturity ensures a sweet start to the second act. amazing I seem to see tears which culminated in a fantastic horse-drawn carriage Great love calls mein which he embellishes his incarnation, though without the superfluous final triptych, sung in Dresden.

Among the rest, the excellent Gilda stood out from the young Italian soprano Giuliana Mazzola, who replaced the Armenian Nina Minassian and was the other winner of the night. With a big, flexible, and musical voice, he delighted Veronese audiences with his brilliant phrasing and secured the treble; Fermata him in Rondo Dear name, as it climbed to the top of E, was impressive. Otherwise, it was Gianluca Burrato’s powerful Sparafucile bass who rocked the bass in its first performance. and the mizu It was embroidered by Valeria Girardello Funny talk In the famous quartet Beautiful daughter of lovewhich was one of the highlights of the night.

The ring circus imposes a certain degree of vocal presentation. It was evident in the many added highs, but especially in the unnecessary appearance of the horse-drawn carriage Gilda and Rigoletto, which closes the second chapter Yes, terrible revenge revenge. Marco Armiliato He was a good conductor at the head of the Fondazione Arena di Verona orchestra, although not very precise. And the third element of distinction, in addition to Salci and Mazzola, was the festival choir, prepared by Roberto Gabbani, and had excellent interventions, such as the comic choir. shut up shut up In pianissimo f intermittent.

Comedian Antonio Albanese’s show was another hit. A simple, well-directed proposal that uses the backdrop of 1950s Italian neorealist films. At the beginning of the opera, we watch the summer cinema in it Beautifulby Visconti, while the orchestra plays Verdi’s short, intense introduction. It was a way of juxtaposing the lighthearted party at first with the drama of the premise, through the harrowing scene in which actress Anna Magnani watches her young daughter mercilessly mocked by adults at a movie test. Everything else combines the social picture of the time and Verdi’s plot with taste and without disharmony.

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