So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

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lennygoran
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So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

Post by lennygoran » Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:26 am

Thanks to Bob for pointing out opera vision!

I sure thought I had seen it many years before on a DVD but as the plot unfolded I realized it was new for me-what a pleasure from a music point of view-to see it in the comfort of home for free c/o opera vision and you tube-traditional production and English captions. Still the production was kind of bareboned and clumsy-the acting was imo a little off-the costumes were very good-the singing pretty good. This is an opera that deserves the full treatment like Simon Boccanegra. Regards, Len


Streamed on OperaVision on 14 April 2020 at 19:00 CET and available for 6 months: https://operavision.eu/en/library/per...

OUR CAST

Francesco Foscari: Vladimir Stoyanov
Jacopo Foscari: Stefan Pop
Lucrezia Contarini: Maria Katzarava
Jacopo Loredano: Giacomo Prestia
Barbarigo: Francesco Marsiglia
Pisana: Erica Wenmeng Gu
Fante: Vasyl Solodkyy
Un servo: Gianni De Angelis
Chorus: Coro del Teatro Regio di Parma
Orchestra: Filarmonica Arturo Toscanni / Orchestra Giovanile della Via Emilia


Here's are 2 reviews I found-the reviewers cast is different in some respects from the cast we saw.

I due Foscari was Verdi's sixth opera and is numbered likewise in this series called Tutto Verdi which will encompass all twenty-six, plus his Requiem, from the Parma Verdi Festival. They are issued to celebrate the bicentenary of composer’s birth. As I noted in my review of number three, Nabucco, this statement does beg a question as there are twenty-eight different titles in the Verdi canon Two, Jérusalem (1847) was a re-write of his fourth opera, I Lombardi (1843) to a French libretto for the composer’s debut at the Paris Opéra, and Aroldo (1857) was a re-write of Stiffelio (1850) to get away from the portrayal of a married Protestant Minister that offended some audience sensibilities. I suspect that these two re-writes will not feature in Tutto Verdi, I also expect that the two other operas that Verdi wrote to French libretti for Paris, Les Vêpres Siciliennes (1855) and Don Carlos (1867) will be recorded in their Italian translations. These statements are not meant as criticism as the project is particularly welcome because of the venues chosen. The project will make available video recordings of Verdi operas not hitherto available. The first of these, Un Giorno di Regno, Verdi’s second opera, is already available and will be reviewed shortly, his eighth,Alzira, is promised.

Verdi had considered an opera based on Venice for his fifth work. This was scheduled for his debut at the Teatro La Fenice, premiere opera house in that city, in the Winter Season of 1844. However, Venice had the reputation of a festival city, its darker side carefully concealed. Consequently, Verdi was warned off and instead set Ernani.For his Rome debut later that year, and after the censors had considered his first choice as being subversive, his thoughts returned to an opera based on Venice and in particular on Lord Byron's play The Two Foscari. With his innate feel for the theatre he recognised that the play did not have the theatrical grandeur needed for an opera and instructed his librettist, Piave, to find content to add a splash.

Set in Venice around 1457, the story concerns the aged Doge, Francesco Foscari, who has made enemies in the all-powerful Council of Ten. His son Jacopo, has been charged and tortured on false accusation and sent to exile away from his wife and children. His wife pleads with his father, as Doge, to exercise clemency and allow his son to return to Venice. Francesco cannot usurp his judicial duty and his son is sentenced to further exile. As Loredano, an implacable enemy of the Foscari gloats, Francesco, as father, meets his son in prison. Jacopo is summoned to be told he is to be exiled again, with his wife and children forbidden to accompany him.

In the final act, preceded by a regatta and Venetian Festival, Jacopo is led to a boat for exile. Back in the Doge’s Palace his father reflects that the last of his three sons has been taken from him. A letter revealing Jacopo’s innocence arrives too late as the young man has died of grief. Bereft, Francesco then faces the ultimate insult of being forced to abdicate his position and Lucrezia returns to find him stripped of his crown and robes. He dies of grief.

This production by Joseph Franconi Lee was seen in Bilbao in November preceding this recording. William Orlandi’s set and costumes are traditional and in period. There are no regietheater idiotics or idiosyncrasies. His set of a wide stepped front, somewhat in the Pierre Luigi Pizzi style, is backed by sliding panels which open and close to reveal quick scene-changes. In act three they also reveal a very colourful backdrop for the dancers at the Festival as Jacopo is sent to his second exile.

The Teatro Regio in Parma is beautiful in itself and of modest size. The singers do not have to force, particularly when accompanied by a maestro of such experience and sympathy as Donato Renzetti. The title role is sung by Leo Nucci, at the time just past his mid-sixties. Compared with his performance as Nabucco the same year he seems to find the role less stressful and although he scoops occasionally he exhibits little of the vocal spread and unsteadiness I found in that performance. I regret that despite his long professional life in the top league of Verdi baritones, he could not refrain from breaking role and acknowledging the applause after Francesco’s aria near the end of the opera as the Doge, faces the reality of his position (CH.35). It is a serious blot on the drama and to a degree unforgivable in a professional of his standing who had just given a memorable interpretation. I gather that Nucci did not sing all the scheduled performances with the young Italian Claudio Sgura proving a very able substitute.

Roberto De Biasio sang the role of Jacopo Foscari. I recall admiring his performance as Edgardo in a recording of Lucia di Lammermoor from the Donizetti Festival at Bergamo in October 2006 (see review). I noted that he showed a voice of much promise with a pleasing clear timbre and making effort at expression as well as singing mezza and sotto voce when appropriate. These attributes are evidenced in his interpretation here. I was, however, disappointed that his phrasing still lacks that vital element of elegance that raises the merely average singer to the good. He has plenty of promise and could gainfully learn from Carlo Bergonzi in this respect.

As Lucrezia, the Russian soprano Tatiana Serjan sang particularly well and acted with conviction in both body and voice. Her voice is even, pure, and able to exhibit a wide variety of modulation and colour. As the implacable Loredano, Roberto Tagliavini sang with sonority and admirable steadiness, also characterising well.

The only serious rival on video is that from La Scala in 1988 conducted by Muti (Opus Arte OA LS 3007 D). Renato Bruson acts superbly, but is not always steady. In the larger theatre neither the soprano nor the tenor in that issue comes over with any distinction. On CD, the Philips recording with Carreras as Jacopo, Cappuccilli as Doge, Katia Ricciarelli as Lucrezia and Sam Remy as Loredano stands alone in terms of quality (Philips 422 426-2).

Robert J Farr


Hats off to the Teatro Regio di Parma, who have decided to mark the Verdi bicentenary by performing every single one of his operas. Hats off, too, to Unitel for recording them and releasing each of them on DVD and Blu-Ray. By the end of the project Verdi lovers will be able to call on a fantastic resource to enrich their enjoyment of the composer. It’s great idea, and it’s wonderful to have Verdi’s complete operas on film, performed by one company throughout. In one sense, Parma is the ideal place to attempt it - it’s virtually Verdi’s home town after all, and the theatre claims to have a unique understanding of the composer and his work. However, laudable as their ambition is, you have to admit that Parma isn’t a world class house. The orchestral playing is good but certainly not of the highest order, and the stagecraft in general is rather pedestrian. The chorus are blocked like a school play and they make barely any attempt to act, while Renzetti’s conducting is secure and reliable without setting the world on fire. I couldn’t help but dream of how exciting it might have been if, say La Scala or La Fenice had set themselves this task. Still, we are where we are, and the thing that will make most people decide on whether to go for this set is the quality of the singing.

In one sense, it’s pretty provincial. The soprano and tenor don’t know the meaning of subtlety and blast out all of their numbers at maximum volume and emotional intensity. This isn’t so much of a problem when it’s Tatiana Serjan’s soprano. Yes, she’s strident, and even a little abrasive at times, but she can make a thrilling sound. She chews up the scenery in her first scene and aria - as, in reality, she does in every scene! - and she is always exciting, bringing out the vocal line thrillingly in the big Act 2 ensemble. However, she is a million miles away from tenderness in the affectionate duet and trio of the prison scene. At times she seems to be telling her husband off rather than comforting him! Roberto di Biasio has a similar level of tact, but more damaging for him is the way he hits the notes, or doesn’t. Every scene begins well, and there is clarion-like quality to the voice which you would think would suit early Verdi down to the ground, but the accuracy of his pitching slides as each number progresses, and he develops a worrying tendency to attack his notes from below. This is particularly damaging in his aria and cabaletta in the opening scene, which should be a chance for the tenor to show off the quality of his voice, but ends up becoming a bit of a trial, both for singer and listener.

I must admit I didn’t come to Leo Nucci with high expectations, and at the start my fears were confirmed as he seemed unable to pitch his notes accurately, using excessively grating portamento to slide up to the note that begins each phrase. However, once I tuned in to this, I have to admit he impressed me with both the quality of his tone and the intensity of his phrasing. He still has the vocal energy that so characterised his Figaro and Iago years ago, but now it is tempered by a jaded quality that suits the elderly Foscari very well indeed. His acting is a little wooden, and he seems to have a permanently pained expression on his face, though that’s partly the fault of the libretto. However, he brings real quality to his portrayal of the elderly Doge, torn between his duties to his son and to his state. There’s also gravitas and dignity from him in the ensemble scenes. He is particularly fine in the final scene where he suffers the double tragedy of the death of his son and the Council depriving him of his office. In fact, he reminded me of a wounded lion, a great baritone towards the end of his career summoning up all of his vocal resources to provide a tour de force in a great role.

As for the opera itself, it really is a cracker, and Nucci’s performance reminds you just how good it is. It’s not too difficult to see in this opera much of the material that Verdi would return to in Simon Boccanegra, another tale of an elderly Doge torn apart by family tragedy, and every tune is a winner. The Parma production is fairly minimalist in terms of sets, but then they have a lot of Verdi to pay for in this project, so who can blame them? Costumes are quietly plush though, evoking the period very effectively. The camera work is fine, though I found the DTS sound rather boxy, almost as if they kept experimenting with different placings of the microphones and never quite found the right one. The disc also includes a helpful ten-minute feature introducing the opera.

Simon Thompson

maestrob
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Re: So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

Post by maestrob » Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:42 am

Leo Nucci was never my baritone of choice, frankly. I found his tone leathery and unexpressive, unsubtle, and rather pushed and coarse. The project of producing Verdi's complete operas is a fine one, of course, and it surprised me that none of the major opera houses in the world didn't take it up at all for the composer's centennial. I should point out that Vincent La Selva (my mentor) was the only maestro to do this in the 1980's culminating in a stunning performance of the Requiem in Carnegie Hall. During that decade, La Selva did produce the French version of Jerusalem, also in Carnegie Hall in a concert version, as well as the NY premiere of the original version of Simon Boccanegra as part of the series. He received a Knighthood from the Italian government for his efforts.

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Re: So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

Post by Lance » Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:33 pm

Good for you, Lenny. Glad you got to hear/see this. I only this opera from recordings and have only two versions of it, 1) Decca w/Carreras, Ricciarelli, Ramey, Gardelli conducting, and 2) Aura (live) w/Bergonzi, Guelfi, Vitale, Giulini conducting (from 1951, Milan). Good thing we have recordings/DVDs, otherwise there would be much we might miss otherwise.
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lennygoran
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Re: So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

Post by lennygoran » Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:07 am

maestrob wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:42 am
Leo Nucci was never my baritone of choice,
Brian for Sue and myself Milnes, Cornell McNeil-loved them! I still intend to watch the Met on demand Otello with Vickers, McNeil and Scotto-I watched just a small part on the computer and it didn't take me long for Vickers greatness to come through! We're getting On Demand free now because we subscribed to next year's performances [8 operas] Regards, Len

lennygoran
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Re: So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

Post by lennygoran » Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:08 am

Lance wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:33 pm
Good for you, Lenny. Glad you got to hear/see this. I only this opera from recordings and have only two versions of it, 1) Decca w/Carreras, Ricciarelli, Ramey, Gardelli conducting, and 2) Aura (live) w/Bergonzi, Guelfi, Vitale, Giulini conducting (from 1951, Milan). Good thing we have recordings/DVDs, otherwise there would be much we might miss otherwise.
Lance those casts sound wonderful! Regards, Len

maestrob
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Re: So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

Post by maestrob » Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:11 am

lennygoran wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:07 am
maestrob wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:42 am
Leo Nucci was never my baritone of choice,
Brian for Sue and myself Milnes, Cornell McNeil-loved them! I still intend to watch the Met on demand Otello with Vickers, McNeil and Scotto-I watched just a small part on the computer and it didn't take me long for Vickers greatness to come through! We're getting On Demand free now because we subscribed to next year's performances [8 operas] Regards, Len
That's one of Scotto's greatest performances: it far outclasses her recording with Domingo. MacNeil is rather dopey as Iago, but Scotto and Vickers are great!

lennygoran
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Re: So I'ts My First I Due Foscari

Post by lennygoran » Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:26 am

maestrob wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:11 am

That's one of Scotto's greatest performances: it far outclasses her recording with Domingo. MacNeil is rather dopey as Iago, but Scotto and Vickers are great!
Brian now we have to see this-MacNeil dopey-wow! Regards, Len :lol:

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