IL TROVATORE – Giuseppe Verdi

Recorded on 19 June 2021 at Circo Massimo, Rome.

 Sung in Italian.

Available from July 28, 2021 through January 28, 2022 on Opera Vision

With Roberta Mantegna, Clementine Margaine, Fabio Sartori, Christopher Maltman, and Marco Spotti. Conducted by Daniele Gatti, directed by Lorenzo Mariani. Orchestra And Chorus of Rome Opera

After the success of Rigoletto, Verdi did not waste any time getting Il Trovatore, his next opera up on the boards. It premiered in January of 1853 and, from that point the work it entered the repertory of every major opera house in Italy, then Europe, then America.

Il Trovatore is not an easy opera to sing: it requires four major Verdian voices to bring it off: a lyric spinto soprano with plenty of flexibility, a dramatic mezzo with a rock solid top range, a dramatic tenor with enough guts to stop the show with Di quella pira, and a baritone who can both spin out Il ballen del suo sorriso and hold his own in several major ensembles, duets and trios. A pretty tall order!

In the Opera di Roma production, now available through January 28, 2022 on Opera Vision, not all four principals are able to rise up to the occasion. Soprano Roberta Mantegna is an engaging Leonora, at best in her opening scene, where she delivers a good Tacea la notte placida and its ensuing cabaletta. Best of the quartet is the French mezzo-soprano Clementine Margaine, a singer endowed with a fiery temperament, impressive top notes, and an equally good lower range, all needed to deliver an impressive Stride la vampa and a hair raising Condotta era in ceppi. Ms. Margaine’s attractive good looks make her perhaps a trifle too pretty to convince as a half-crazed old gypsy hag which make her as pretty as the Leonora of soprano Roberta Mantegna.

The under par Di Luna of English baritone Christopher Maltman disappoints, the singer – an elegant lyric baritone at best in much better suited roles  is unable to rise up to the demands of his Italian baritone assignment, never more so than in a perilously-sung Il ballen del suo sorriso. Fabio Sartori’s silent- movie acting and plus-size strain credulity notwithstanding his fine vocal gifts, which he displays to good effect in his scenes with Ms. Margaine.

Daniele Gatti conducts with stylistic assurance and for the most part manages to keep his cast, orchestra and chorus under control. The staging by Lorenzo Mariani avoids clichés while working on a modest production budget.

Rafael de Acha