Verdi Gala from Berlin

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

image_description=Verdi Gala from Berlin
product_title=Verdi Gala from Berlin
product_by=Andrea Rost, RamÛn Vargas, Alan Titus, Lucio Gallo and other soloists; Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado, conductor
product_id=EuroArts 2050858 [DVD]