Saturday, March 23, 2013

La Forza del Destino

La Forza del Destino

Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, with later revisions by Antonio Ghislanzoni
Archive performance of March 12, 1977
THE CAST (in order of vocal appearance)
Marquis bass, MALCOLM SMITH
Leonora soprano, LEONTYNE PRICE
Don Alvaro tenor, PLÁCIDO DOMINGO
Don Carlo baritone, CORNELL MACNEIL
Trabuco tenor, ANDREA VELIS
Preziosilla mezzo, ROSALIND ELIAS
Fra Melitone bar., RENATO CAPECCHI
Padre Guardiano bass, MARTTI TALVELA
Surgeon bar., ROBERT GOODLOE

Conducted by JAMES LEVINE

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

1952–53 production revised 1975:
John Dexter
Set designer: Eugene Berman
Costume designer: Peter J. Hall
Associate designer: David Reppa
Assistant stage director: David Sell
Choreography: Norbert Vesak
Chorus master: David Stivender
Musical preparation: Alberta Masiello

(Spain and Italy,
mid-18th c.)

ACT I Marquis's palace 1:00–
ACT II –2:29
Sc. 1 An inn at Hornachuelos
Sc. 2 Madonna degli Angeli church
ACT III Italy 2:49–4:33
Sc. 1 A battlefield
Sc. 2 The same, later
Sc. 3 The soldiers' camp
ACT IV Spain
Sc. 1 Madonna degli Angeli cloister
Sc. 2 Valley near the cloister
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
Elena Park

Verdi's Forza del Destino, which had its world premiere in St. Petersburg in 1862, arrived at the Metropolitan Opera in 1918, in a production that would serve the company until the mid-1940s. The Met did not mount its second Forza production until 1952, when Herbert Graf directed a staging, designed by Eugene Berman, that featured several cuts and re-arrangements: the Inn at Hornachuelos scene was omitted, and the overture was used as an entr'acte between the first scene and Leonora's arrival at the monastery of Madonna degli Angeli. In 1975, the Met presented a revision of the Graf–Berman Forza, directed by John Dexter (1925–90), then the Met's director of productions, and conducted by James Levine (b. 1943), who restored the Inn scene and had the overture played in its proper place, a practice that continued in subsequent revivals.

The Met's 1977 broadcast of Forza gathered a first-rank cast under the baton of Levine, then in his first full season as the Met's music director. The Don Carlo was American baritone Cornell MacNeil (1922–2011), whose 1959 Met debut as Rigoletto began a 642-performance career with the company that lasted until 1987. Rosalind Elias (b. 1929), the broadcast's Preziosilla, made her Met debut in 1954, as Grimgerde in Die Walküre, the first of her 687 Met performances in thirty-five seasons on the roster.

Leontyne Price (b. 1927) was Leonora di Vargas, a role that the Mississippi-born soprano sang eighteen times for the company, including a 1984 Live from the Met telecast. Price, who had made her 1961 company debut as Leonora in Il Trovatore, was one of the Met's most beloved stars; her other Verdi assignments during her twenty-one Met seasons were Aida (the role of her internationally telecast "farewell to opera" in 1985), Amelia, Elvira in Ernani and the Verdi Requiem.

Don Alvaro on the 1977 Forza broadcast was Plácido Domingo (b. 1941), who made his first appearance with the Met in 1966, in a Lewisohn Stadium concert of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Domingo, who sang thirteen Met performances of Forza between 1971 and 1996, delivers his first Met performances of Germont in La Traviata this month.

Leontyne Price as Leonora at the Met
Louis Melançon/Metropolitan Opera Archives

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