Ever since their magnificent and hugely successful performance in Wagner’s “Lohengrin” at the Bavarian State Opera, Anja Harteros and Jonas Kaufmann have come to be regarded as the world of opera’s perfect couple. In Giuseppe Verdi’s “La forza del destino”, the two returned and once again played two lovers desperately trying to be together but kept apart by the forces of destiny. Their performance at the Munich Opera Festival met with “explosive outbursts of applause for the new heights reached in singing” (dpa).
Verdi’s opera brings together three themes which have always been central to the history of mankind and which still retain their topicality today: class arrogance, racial prejudice and hysterical warmongering. The noble Leonora, daughter of a marquess, is forbidden to be with Alvaro, the man she loves, because he is a Mestizo of Incan descent and therefore regarded not equal to her in social status. The third element, aggressive military frenzy and the horrors of war, quickly reveal themselves not to be the least bit as entertaining and merry as the gypsy Preziosilla would have everyone believe. In a world as cruel as this, the two despairing and desolate lovers finally conclude, not even the church can offer a way out.
With “La forza del destino” Verdi created a pioneering masterpiece with regards to both form and content.
Anja Harteros formed, as it were, the radiant centrepiece of the production, “the effect of her angel-like ‘piano’ is overwhelming” (Münchner Merkur). By virtue both of her wonderful voice and the sheer power of her magnificent performance, she was able to celebrate nothing short of a triumph: “No one else today can die so beautifully, can act with such intensity. And no contemporary singer can hold a candle to her” (SZ). Jonas Kaufmann is the ideal choice for Alvaro: “At the present time, he is deservedly called unique because there is no other tenor who sings, acts, and creates so consummately” (Die Welt). French baritone Ludovic Tezier’s portrayal of Don Carlo was “a dramatic and dark, fundamental event” (Der Standard).
Under the insightful, circumspective, and psychological direction of Martin Kušej, the choir of the Bavarian State Opera sang with “elegance and precision”. The Bayerisches Staatsorchester, conducted by Asher Fisch, played beautifully and with accomplished sonority, “drawing forth superb details” (FAZ). Vitalij Kowaljow as the noble Padre Guardiano/Marquess of Calatrava, Nadia Krasteva as the fiery Preziosilla, und Renato Girolami as the tragi-comical Fra Melitone complete this first-class ensemble, leaving absolutely nothing to be desired for opera lovers.