Rumour on the operatic street has it that tickets for Christof Loy’s new production of La Forza del Destino are reselling for as much as £4000. There are two obvious reasons: Anna Netrebko, who sings Leonora, and Jonas Kaufmann, who sings Alvaro – the two operatic megastars of the day, who share the stage in just four performances out of the run.
Neither of them disappoints. With voices of the requisite size, quality and coloristic range, both are fine actors who portray superbly the two individuals whom fate pursues implacably over the course of many years and halfway across Europe until it has had its malign fun with them. As Leonora’s revenge-obsessed brother Carlo, Ludovic Tezier supplies a third performance of true star quality.
But just to add him would be to do an injustice to other exceptional interpretations: Alessandro Corbelli’s darkly malicious Melitone – Verdi’s scathing parody of the Catholic priesthood – Ferruccio Furlanetto’s noble and grandly resonant Father Superior, and Veronica Simeoni’s vital, showbizzy Preziosilla, the war-mongering Roma woman.
What makes the evening a success is Loy’s ability to meld the disparate elements in this complex piece together: the scenes of ordinary people victimised by war and poverty are here dovetailed into (and an implicit criticism of) the high-born characters and their obsessions with honour and racial purity. Christian Schmidt’s period-mixing costumes work well.
Overseeing the musical performance is the Royal Opera’s greatest single asset, Antonio Pappano, under whose dynamic lead the orchestra, chorus and principals blaze away in this ambitious and far-reaching operatic epic.