Notoriously, Verdi's La forza del destino has the reputation for being rambling when not suitably staged, even if its amazing overture and many of the arias and duets are among Verdi’s best moments. Visually this production in Salerno fully rendered the opera's atmosphere in a traditional staging that stays faithful to Verdi's and Piave's intentions. Pier Francesco Maestrini’s precise direction obtained a concentrated and tense interpretation from both the singers and the orchestra, supported by Alfredo Troisi's set and costume designs. The director was good at encompassing the private stories and emotions of the three main characters into a broader context, dominated by Fate.

<i>La forza del destino</i> in Salerno © Massimo Pica
La forza del destino in Salerno
© Massimo Pica

The singers offered moments of inspired lyricism and solo. Maria Pia Piscitelli gave a very fine performance of Leonora. Her voice was beautiful and expressive, especially in the moving high register. She made the role of Leonora her own, as it was not only her singing that was gorgeous and communicative, but for the way she brought graciousness and deep feeling to the character. She projected her intense passion with humble humanity. Her "Madre, pietosa Vergine" was beautifully sung, as well as "Pace, pace mio Dio" was very intensely felt.

Tenor Walter Fraccaro is a good professional, while giving the impression of a certain effort in outlining Don Alvaro vocally. He sang with pathos, but his phrasing tended to spread too much and the high register sounded strained at times. His acting was very good though, since the staging allowed his tormented character to come adequately through.  

Simone Piazzola's baritone has a gorgeous sound, solid and full, depicting a young and impulsive Don Carlo. He wowed the audience with his tasteful phrasing, revealing a great adherence to the character and acting with authority. The duets between Alvaro and Carlo were full of fire and intensity and the production made their spiritual struggle quite convincing.

Simone Piazzola (Don Carlo) and Walter Fraccaro (Don Alvaro) © Massimo Pica
Simone Piazzola (Don Carlo) and Walter Fraccaro (Don Alvaro)
© Massimo Pica

Simon Lim displayed much as Padre Guardiano, his warm timbre and resonance were undeniably there, along with a compassionate and severe stage presence. Gezim Myshketa gave an amusing characterisation as an irascible Fra Melitone, and his voice had much character and energetic style.

Ekaterina Semenchuk's Preziosilla was highly appreciated. She sang with warm colour and liveliness, and, as most of her role develops in mass scenes, she was able to make her mezzo-soprano voice emerge with distinction and perfectly harmonious.

Simon Lim (Padre Guardiano) and Maria Pia Piscitelli (Leonora) © Massimo Pica
Simon Lim (Padre Guardiano) and Maria Pia Piscitelli (Leonora)
© Massimo Pica

Musically, the performance was fine. The orchestra played with assurance, beautiful tone and confidence. Daniel Oren's conducting was commanding and helpful, and he did a good job in keeping the singers and orchestra together, taking care of the prominence of themes and refinement of phrases.

The Chorus of the Teatro dell'Opera di Salerno, directed by Tiziana Carlini, sang attractively and with vibrant sound, as the stage direction allowed them to do as much as they could, in spite of the fact the stage in this theatre is quite narrow. The choreographies were by Pina Testa.

****1