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As the Teatro Regio di Parma’s filmed documentation of its complete Verdi series progresses, some themes emerge. Though the only local Italian premiere of a Verdi opera was Les vêpres siciliennes (as Giovanna di Guzman), the theatre has long held a reputation as a bastion of his work. These productions are traditional, the sets simple but effective, the stage-work finely honed. Casting tends to concentrate on those on the way up, or with a particularly strong reputation in Italy. Conducting is solid and professional, sometimes exciting.

I imagine I Lombardi was highly effective on stage, but the use of torches amidst the mists sometimes makes it gloomy on screen. Lamberto Pugelli’s production reveals a series of beautiful backdrops and the costumes are a hippy’s tie-die heaven, albeit rather more chic. The singing is forthright. Michele Pertusi’s bass provides suave tone and dignified presence as Pagano. Tenor honours are split between Roberto De Biasio and Francesco Meli as Arvino and Oronte; both are good, but as Meli’s tone is brighter and he gets the ‘hit’ aria he makes more immediate impact. Dimitra Theodossiou is on good form as Giselda, so we enjoy the benefits of her vocal involvement and some well- judged pianissimi alongside some squally tone and her somewhat belligerent demeanour.

Ernani’s soprano, Susan Neves, has more refulgence of tone, though the role gives her less to play with dramatically. Marco Berti’s Ernani has an effective vocal line and little stage persona, Carlo Guelfi’s baritone suddenly springs into life with his aria, and Giacomo Prestia is a slightly woolly-toned da Silva. The production by Pier’Alli is fine, the sets monolithic, the costumes quite unflattering – everyone looks upholstered rather than dressed.

Joseph Franconi Lee’s production of I due Foscari, set against a simple curved backdrop and beautifully costumed, works best on screen. His cast is also the most homogenous, with Leo Nucci giving a baritonal masterclass in the title role, Tatiana Serjan pouring out exciting (if veiled) tone as Lucrezia, and De Biasio enjoying a success as Jacopo. Daniele Callegari, Antonello Allemandi and Donato Renzetti conduct the respective operas, and orchestral and choral contributions are solid.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Opera Now, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing