How could it be less this year 2013, commemorative of the bicentennials of Richard Wagner (Leipzig, Germany, 22 May 1813 - Venice, Italy, 13 February 1883), Y Giuseppe Verdi (the Roncole, Bussetto, Parma, Italy, 10 October 1813 - Milan, Italy, 27 of January of 1901):
He Festival of Peralada Castle, He has dedicated an extensive program to celebrate both events. First of all, It should be noted-that just and necessary- the perfect and exemplary organization of this summer festival, in that beautiful setting of the Catalan "Alt Empurdà", already very close to the French border, and which I had the pleasure of attending for the first time in a distant 2002, in a recital, with included interview of the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez, when he was beginning to be known and was shaping the path to that great fame that he has acquired in later years.
That magnificent lyrical program dedicated to both bicentennials, It started from the same day of the opening of the Festival, he 17 of July, with the interpretation of the Verdiana Messa di Requiem, performed by the Choir and Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, under the direction of its owner Josep Pons, who gave the orchestra a vibrant rhythm and, in unison, achieving that high dramatic tone that this work requires: whose premiere took place in 1874, in homage to the great poet Alessandro Manzoni, died just a year before. Verdi's ability as an orchestrator can be seen in this composition., achieved little by little, during the thirty-five years of intense work that mediated between his first opera Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio (1839) and that year 1874 of the premiere of the Requiem. The vocal soloists were of authentic category led by the magnificent Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, voluminous and timbred voice, endowed with that <<ring>> and rotundity that this work requires. The performance of the Italian mezzo Luciana D’Intino was not behind. As well, good rendering of the bass Michele Pertusi. Y, more discreet, el tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, of beautiful and timbred emission, but something light for this work that requires a more resounding voice; Y, it becomes evident, in his great solo moment the "Ingemisco", where his interpretation is very far from those performed by a Jussi Björling with Zinca Milanov in 1940 o Leontine Price and 1960, in his recordings directed respectively by Arturo Toscanini and Fritz Reiner.
Toscanini himself directed another historical Requiem in 1951, at New York's Carnegie Hall, with the wonderful voice of the young Giuseppe Di Stefano, flanked by two other greats of the lyric: Fedora Barbieri and Cesare Siepi. It is necessary to highlight another historical Requiem, with the magnificent performance of a young Luciano Pavarotti, con Leontine Price, the great half Fiorenza Cossotto, and a Nicolai Ghiaurov in his best vocal moment, all directed at 1967 by Herbert von Karajan, in a scaliger function filmed, and later remastered and released on DVD, which has become an essential document of this great Verdi religious work.
Anyway, This Peralada Requiem was quite high carats, especially by the direction of Josep Pons, and the vocal performances of Eva-María Westbroek and Luciana D’Intino.
The interpretation of this work was also a tribute to the memory of the poet, Catalan-language playwright and novelist Salvador Spriu, on the centenary of his birth on 10 July 1813, one hundred years after Verdi and Wagner.
Y, we go to the second lyrical day on Friday 2 of August, dedicated to Wagner with the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra conducted by its owner Valery Gergiev, with that strength and conviction that are common in him. Maybe, in the first part dedicated to the interpretation of Act I of Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), some instrumentalists did not get fully orthodox solo introductions, and I mean bass strings and brass. In compensation if we had the fortune to listen to three Russian singers with resounding and intoned voices, with a good command of the German language, something fundamental to duly qualify their respective roles. Very notable is the Sieglinde of the soprano Mlada Judoléi with a very attractive timbre, and blending very well with the Siegmund of the tenor August Amonov, quite intoned in the passages of greater heroic thrust, with a phrasing full of intentionality, though not overly refined in the lyrical moments of those long and precious duets with Sieglinde.
Magnificent for stage presence and vocality the bass Mikhail Petrenko, who performed a great performance of the jealous and malevolent Hunding.
The orchestra was much better in the second part, with excellent interpretations of the overtures by Lohengrin and Los Maestros Cantores. Although, the great moments of this concert, were run by a magnificent Eva-Maria Wetbroek, who after having faced with true brilliance the most lyrical Wagnerian roles such as Elisabeth de Tannhäuser, the Eva of the singing teachers, Sieglinde de The Valkyrie, y la Gutrune de Götterdämmerung, is preparing her debut as Isolde, rehearsing this complex role, in their interpretations of the <<Imprecation of Isolde>> and the <<Death of love>>, where he was impressive for his great dramatic ability, vocal rotundity, and absolute control of all records: graves, center and treble. A devoted audience applauded both Gergiev and Westbroek with great force..
The next day saturday 3 In August another Wagnerian event took place with the absolute premiere in Spain of Das liebesverbot (The Liebesverbot), Richard Wagner's youth opera premiered 1836 in Magdeburg - with a thunderous failure- when its author was only twenty-two years old. The montage, performed by stage director Georgios Kapoglou, was commissioned by the Bayreuth Young Artists Festival in 2005, in a version where the almost three and a half hours of the original score are reduced, less than two, performed by composer Frank Böhme in modern key, for the chamber ensemble Ensamble Orquesta de Cadaqués, with additional instrumentation of electric guitar and saxophones, that Fausto Nardi knew how to direct with real skill. The musical arrangement could remember, at times, Kurt Weill's musical theater.
This version tries to concentrate the most essential of the action, with a special attention to showing an uncompromising defense of free love and female emancipation, marking excessively, the right of women to have absolute freedom to choose the man they like best, no family or social restrictions. It is an adaptation that Wagner himself made of Schakespeare's play Measure for Measure.
The staging inside the Church of Carmen de Peralada is very interesting, with the orchestra in the background, and the action developed within a rectangular and closed bleachers where spectators could follow the action from very close, practically listening to the breathing of the different performers.
Magnificent vocal and theatrical performance by young singers, like the baritones Enric Martinez-Castignani and Àlex Sanmartí, the sopranos Júlia Farrés-Llongueras, Rocio Martinez and Mercedes Gancedo, and the tenor David Alegret.
Good performance by the Chamber Choir of the Palau de la Música Catalana. Magnificent premiere performance of this authentic Wagnerian rarity. Only, signify the suffocating heat inside the Iglesia del Carmen where the representation took place.
Anyway, these three musical events reviewed, have been the magnificent contribution of the Peralada Festival 2013, to the bicentennials of Wagner and Verdi.
Diego Manuel Garcia Perez-Espejo