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Subject: Re: La Forza del Destino
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 14 Jan 2017 11:24:07 -0800

text/plain (68 lines)

Adding to the other Max’s comments, I think the “disjointed” and off balance aspects of the work are very deliberate and make it one of the most strikingly innovative works Verdi did.  I think that, like several more recent books and movies, Verdi and Piave challenged the audience to put together the discordant elements in their own minds and psyches, rather than wrapping it up for them. It’s also possibly, on that very account, one of the most difficult to get across in a way that realizes its innate power and impact. It takes scenery, direction, subtlety as well as power in the singers’ interpretations and the right kind of conducting to tie these strands into a coherent statement. 

It doesn’t have to be a “traditional” production. I felt I gained tremendous insight into the real nature of the opera (and was overall very powerfully impressed) when I saw the Kusej Munich production, now out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Although I have to say that, having watched the original telecast online, there were many things that made sense to me in the theater that hadn’t watching it at home. In particular, Harteros and Kaufmann had the acting ability as well as the vocal capability to really convince.

One talks of terms like “epic” and “sprawling” and it seems to reflect influence of the Russian operas of the 19th Century. I don’t think that the fact that it was premiered in St. Petersburg influenced anything particularly “Russian” about the opera, but I do think that it freed Verdi and Piave from a number of the conventions that would have been put on them if the premier had taken place either in Paris or Milan. I think the result is brilliant but not all that easy to grasp. However, I don’t think it takes much to grasp the beauty and power of the music, particularly the Convent Scene or the exquisite final scene (referring to the Milan ending usually performed - I have the Gergiev recording but haven’t really familiarized myself with the St. Petersburg ending).

Max Paley

> On Jan 14, 2017, at 9:49 AM, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Donald is right - Forza IS disjointed and jumps around a lot.  But that was intentional on 
> Verdi's part.  His correspondence, both while composing the original and when doing the 
> revisions, shows that he was trying to create a big, sprawling epic that covered great 
> distances and much time.  Now I don't think Verdi was completely successful in this.  But 
> the powerful music goes a long way towards making up for the dramatic hop-skip.
> Verdi's intent was to follow one aristocratic family, the Calatravas, and Don Alvaro, an 
> outsider bound up with them and their fate through the death of the Marquis, through the 
> vicissitudes of death, war, distance, and religious contemplation, and show how Destiny 
> pushed them all inoxerably to their collective doom.  (Remember that Don Alvaro commits 
> suicide in the original version.)  And the camp/genre scenes, which many regard as 
> irrelevant distractions, were for Verdi a very important part of this story: outside the main 
> narrative but nevertheless interacting with it and providing a constantly shifting and colorful 
> background.  Verdi actually was more concerned with the casting of Melitone, Trabucco and 
> Preziosilla, than he was with the main roles. 
> Complaints that "The Force of Destiny" should be retitled, "The Force of Coincidence," miss 
> the point.  DESTINY/FATE - embodied in those three brass notes and the surging "destiny" 
> theme, which recurs throughout the opera - pushes all the characters towards that tragic 
> final scene.  In this opera, there is no coincidence - nothing is random or happenstance 
> because the force of destiny, impersonal, inoxerable and tragic, determines these 
> characters' choices and movements.     
> In "Forza," Verdi really was aiming high and on a scale not previously attempted in Italian 
> opera.  If he failed in part, ultimately, it is nevertheless a noble, grand failure that 
> commands respect if not affection.  "Forza" is not my favorite Verdi opera, but I love much 
> of it, particularly the Convent Scene and the final scene.  With a first-rate cast and 
> production, it can be a powerful experience.  
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