As we usher in another year full of hopes, dreams, goals and expectations, I sometimes wonder what destiny has in store for us. With the beginning of 2012 I thought the opera La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny) is particularly significant since it mirrors this precise preoccupation in the solution of our ever growing economical and political problems.
La Forza del Destino is an Italian opera by Guissepe Verdi written by Francesco Maria Piave based on an 1835 Spanish drama, Don Alvaro o la fuerza del sino, by Angel de Saavedra, Duque of Rivas. The original play tells of the passionate love of Don Alvaro and Doa Leonor, and how fate intervenes by way of Alvaros role in the accidental death of Leonors father which ultimately brings about the extermination of Leonors family.
The interesting fact of this opera is that many singers felt it was cursed. For this reason, the very superstitious Luciano Pavarotti avoided the part of Alvaro. Perhaps it was well founded since in March 4, 1960, when Leonard Warren was about to sing Don Carlos aria in Act 3, he fell face down onto the floor. A few minutes later he was pronounced dead of a massive cerebral hemorrhage and the rest of the performances were cancelled.
Despite the so called curse, La Forza del Destino is still frequently performed, and there are a number of excellent recordings. The overture is part of the standard repertoire for symphony orchestras. Although it is not my favorite of Verdis operas, the plot with its compelling subject matter proves no match for Verdis musical talent.
As for productions, I prefer the one with Placido Domingo as the best. Domingo gives a flawlessly perfect performance of Alvaro. His voice is noble and heroic yet with a dark quality that is especially audible in La Vita E Inferno (Life is Hell).
The costumes and sets are excellent in this production. Maestro James Levines conducting and orchestra is superb. There are some particularly well staged scenes such as Pace, Pace Mio Dio (Peace, Peace, My God) and Questora (This hour) to mention but a few. But as usual, dont take my word for it, judge for yourself as you see this clip of a younger Domingo in this role.
Carmen Ileana Romn writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.