“One of the most talked about productions in the world of opera…an incontestable triumph” (Mundoclasico.com) It was a real feast of singing that was offered us by Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden in its temporary home in the Schillertheater at the premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore, the middle element of what has been dubbed his “trilogia popolare” (Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata): Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo in debut roles at the head of an impressive ensemble sensitively directed by that other debutant, Daniel Barenboim.
Anna Netrebko, “in devastating form” (The Times), drew a portrait of Leonora that was compelling and immediate from beginning to end. At her side - as the evening’s real find - Marina Prudenskaya excelled in the role of the vengeful gipsy Azucena: “Exceptional, this singer! Volcanic heat from the depths of her mezzo-soprano, razor-sharp her heights - and every shade of tenderness and ruthlessness is to be found in between.” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). Placido Domingo, once the most-sought-after Manrico of his generation and here for the first time in the baritone role of Count di Luna, still radiates the “Domingo warmth of past times and his magical stage presence ennobles every evening of opera” (Die Welt). To complete the foursome, Gaston Rivero is a delightful Manrico “with an attractive timbre, well-judged phrasing, fine legato” (Opernglas). “Positively sensational, finally, Daniel Barenboim’s debut in conducting this work” (Berliner Zeitung). On the rostrum of “his” Berlin Staatskapelle “he creates wonderful moments of soft tone … and reveals a constantly fascinating Verdi” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), whose suggestive melodies captivate the audience.
Philipp Stölzl achieves a convincing interpretation of one of the most complicated love stories in the history of opera involving jealousy, intrigue, revenge and murder in the conflict between two brothers who confront each other as bitter rivals for the hand of the fair Duchess Leonora. The internationally acclaimed music-video creator, film-commercial maker, tage and screen director blends historical and modern elements into a colourful, Alice in Wonderland-inspired production, brilliantly realizing Verdi’s thoroughly filmic shifts between past and present in surrealistic video projections and a choreography of scenic lighting that opens up the simple stage area with constantly renewed perspectives. “The aesthetic creates a tone of classic and comic” writes Musical America, “a glamorous display and a virtuosic stylistic mix for this staging with Philipp Stölzl’s signature” agrees Le Monde. The lavish period costumes by Ursula Kundra and “the expert ighting by Olaf Freese which casts colourful shadows” (Express, UK) make their own contribution to a brilliant staging.