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Recordings

Verdi Gala from Berlin
08 Mar 2007

Verdi Gala from Berlin

This concert was given on New Year’s eve in the year 2000, and the frail Claudio Abbado who comes out to conduct makes for an alarming sight.

Verdi Gala from Berlin

Andrea Rost, Ramón Vargas, Alan Titus, Lucio Gallo and other soloists; Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado, conductor

EuroArts 2050858 [DVD]

$18.49  Click to buy

To know that the man continues to share his artistry with us in 2007 gives great reassurance. But even more comfort comes with the skillful, detailed support he provides for some fine singers in an evening devoted to the music of Giuseppe Verdi.

For once a gala evening commences without some ubiquitous overture. Andrea Rost pipes merrily as Oscar in the conclusion to Ballo’s act one, scene one, soon joined by Ramon Vargas, Massimo Giordano and Lucio Gallo. Alan Titus and Anatoly Kocherga step in, and soon we’re in Ulrica’s cave, with the psychic sung by Carmela Remigio. Rost concludes the Ballo segment with “Saper vorreste.”

After viewing so many galas, your reviewer appreciates the avoidance of the “walk-on-sing-walk off” ritual. Still, viewers should have no high expectations about witnessing some of the dramatic intensity of a stage performance. The singers are all fine, but this is very much a concert.

Remigio reappears with Stella Doufexis for “ball scene” from the French Don Carlos, an interesting choice of repertory, followed by the traditional tenor gala fare of the Duke’s first and last act arias, sung handsomely by Vargas. Then Abbado leads a rousing Traviata “Libiamo.” Rost offers a sweet, almost cheerful “Sempre libera,” joined by Vargas.

The gala concludes with three large sections of Falstaff, with Alan Titus as the corpulent cavalier, however, not appearing until the third, the opera’s concluding scene. Larisa Diadkova and Elizabeth Futral join Rost and Doufexis as the merry wives, with Gallo, Kocherga, and Giordano as the men, supplemented by Anthony Mee and Enrico Facini. So it’s a Falstaff without much Fat John, for what that’s worth.

As a rousing encore, Abbado leads the orchestra in Johann Strauss’ “Maskenfest-quadrille,” an irresistibly bouncy conflation of some of Ballo’s tunes.

Elegantly performed, this DVD offers 90+ minutes of enjoyable music. And as with so many galas, the whole event vanishes from one’s musical memory fairly quickly. So this DVD allows one to refresh that memory with ease. Treat oneself if so inclined.

Chris Mullins

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