On This Day: A Look At Mirella Freni and Marcelo Alvarez In ‘La Forza Del Destino’

By Francisco Salazar

On Feb. 27, Verdi’s revised version of “La Forza del Destino” premiered at La Scala in 1869. The version included a number of changes, including a completely different ending and adjustments to a few duets. The result was a shorter opera that was hailed by critics as one of Verdi’s late masterpieces.

Throughout history the opera has been a vehicle for many artists. Marcelo Alvarez has taken on the role in recent times while Mirella Freni recorded with Riccardo Mutti. Both artists also share a birthday, which coincides with the premiere of the revised premiere of “La Forza del Destino.” In commemoration of their birthdays, OperaWire takes a look at some of the best moments from “La Forza Del Destino” with these two performers.

“Pace, Pace Mio Dio”

When Mirella Freni sang role she always gave it her all. She was always generous artist who always expressed as much as she could and pushed her voice to the brink in everything she performed. That is why she never took risks with her voice.

In Freni’s “Pace , Pace Mio Dio” The soprano starts with a crescendo on the words “pace” before decresendoing in a piano line and immediately working her way with ease into the next phrase. However, she attacks the next “Pace” with a sforzando emphasizing this word at the core of her character’s desperate needs.  The following section “Cruda Aventura” begins in a mezzo forte and she emphasizes each word as if it is a truly a woman in desperation seeking forgiveness.

Unlike some sopranos who have the tendency to take a slower tempo, Freni, as conducted by Riccardo Muti, gives this aria a swift tempo that allows an audience member to hear the mixed emotions in Leonora. As the orchestra crescendoes, Freni’s voice continues to grow in strength. Only in a few moments does the voice take on a lighter sound, but it is quickly replaced with a full-throated voice. Her final “Maldedizione” is released with vocal heft and the intense expression that Freni was so well known for.

Alvarez’s Alvaro

Marcelo Alvarez is an artist who truly gets caught into the emotions of the characters. One of his vocal trademarks and what makes his singing so exciting is his vigor, the bluntness that he utilizes to give each phrase a sharp edge that slices through emotionally. But when he sang Alvaro in 2011, his final duet in this opera reminded us of a different asset in his vocal arsenal. Here one could see the lyrical side of the voice with a true pianissimo sound. The phrasing always connected and the high notes were achieved without any effort. Additionally the sforzandi were far less aggressive than we are accustomed to from Alvarez’s more enthusiastic vocal phrasing. And together with Vladmiri Stoyanov, there voices blend creating a captivating and heartbreaking duet.



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