Metropolitan Opera presents Verdi’s ‘La Forza del Destino’ ‘Live in HD’

Lise Davidsen as Leonora in Verdi’s ‘La Forza del Destino’ Photo: Paola Kudacki / Met Opera

The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino (The Power of Destiny) opens on February 26th, with a Live in HD transmission to cinemas around the world on March 9th. Direction of this tale of doomed love, deadly vendetta and family strife is by Mariusz Treliński, bringing the action into the contemporary world, and the production – the first new staging by the Met in 30 years – is led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Soprano Lise Davidsen makes her role debut as the heroine Leonora, tenor Brian Jagde is her beloved Don Alvaro and baritone Igor Golovatenko is her vengeful brother Don Carlo.

Brian Jagde as Don Alvaro in Verdi’s ‘La Forza del Destino’ Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

Giuseppe Verdi wrote La Forza del Destino in 1861. It was the 24th of the 26 operas that he composed, of which more than half are still part of the repertoire today. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave who had provided the texts for a number of Verdi operas during the first half of his career. Verdi and Piave based La Forza del destino on Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino – a play by Ángel de Saavedra, 3rd Duke of Rivas – with a comic scene adapted from Wallensteins Lager by Friedrich Schiller.

At first, the opera which premiered at the Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg on November 10th, 1862, wasn’t a success, and Verdi felt compelled to make some revisions. This he did with additional text by Antonio Ghislanzoni, the future librettist of Aida. The revised version was staged at La Scala, Milan, in February 1869 – which was most enthusiastically received.

Igor Golovatenko as Don Carlo and Lise Davidsen as Leonora in a scene from Verdi’s ‘La Forza del Destino’ Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

Set in Seville, originally in the mid-eighteenth century, the story tells of Leonora di Vargas who plans to elope with her beloved, Don Alvaro, of whom her father, the Marquis of Calatrava, disapproves. The Marquis is accidentally shot with Don Alvaro’s revolver, and her brother, Don Carlo swears to avenge his father’s death. The lovers flee, but Don Alvaro and Leonora become separated during their flight. Spain and Germany are now at war, and Don Alvaro and Don Carlos join the military, but as they have both taken assumed names, they do not recognize each other and become close friends.  Leonora has become a hermit, living in a cave and devoting herself to God. Carlo ultimately discovers Alvaro’s real identity and intends to take his revenge. Alvaro fatally wounds Carlo in a duel, Carlo smites Leonora with his last strength and she gasps that she will await Alvaro in Heaven.

Lise Davidsen, with “A one-in-a-million voice”, according to Antonio Pappano, Music Director at the Royal Opera House, follows her series of Met Opera successes with her role as Leonora. She will subsequently repeat this role at the National Theatre in Müpa in Budapest, and she has a Song Recital with Freddie de Tommaso in Salzburg in March. Ms Davidsen will sing Giorgetta in Puccini’s Il tabarro – part of Il trittico – at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the title role in Richard Strauss’ Salome in Paris in May and she will appear at the Reykjavík Festival in June.

Brian Jagde has been hailed by the Chicagoland Journal for the Arts as “… easily among the top tenors on the operatic stage today with a voice that is expansive, powerful and full of colour and depth”. He is due to take part in the live broadcast of La Forza del Destino from the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, he will repeat the role of Don Alvaro in Müpa, Turiddu at Teatro alla Scala in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and he will give his first performances as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca at Teatro Regio di Parma.

Igor Golovatenko made his name on the concert stage with his 2006 debut in the Russian premiere of Delius’ Eine Messe des Lebens with the Russian National Philharmonic Orchestra. He will repeat his role of Don Carlos in Müpa, he takes the title role in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Opera Rara in Manchester, Jago in Verdi’s Otello at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and Il Conte di Luna in Verdi’s Il trovatore at Bayerische Staatsopera in Munich.

Also in the cast are mezzo-soprano Judit Kutasi as the fortune teller Preziosilla, bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi as Friar Melitone, and bass Soloman Howard as both Leonora’s father and Padre Guardiano. For the final three performances, soprano Elena Stikhina and mezzo-soprano Maria Barakova take over as Leonora and Preziosilla.

The performance of La Forza del Destino on Saturday, March 9th will be transmitted live to cinemas around the globe as part of the Met’s Live in HD series. For further information visit the Metropolitan Opera website, where you will also find details of local cinema screenings.

Information sourced from Metropolitan Opera program notes

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