Opera In Live performance Shine A Gentle On Verdi’s Seldom Heard La Battaglia Di Legnano

L-R: Soprano Julia MacVicar; baritone Evan Korbut; Music Director & Pianist Helen Becque; tenor Scott Rumble; baritone Handaya Rusli (Photos courtesy of the artists)
L-R: Soprano Julia MacVicar; baritone Evan Korbut; Music Director & Pianist Helen Becque; tenor Scott Rumble; baritone Handaya Rusli (Photographs courtesy of the artists)

VOICEBOX: Opera in Live performance/La battaglia di Legnano, composed by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, music course by Helen Becqué, refrain course by Robert Cooper, Jane Mallet Theatre, Apr. 7.

Opera in Live performance’s fiftieth anniversary season got here to a stirring shut with Verdi’s La battaglia di Legnano.

The corporate, whose mandate is opera rara, devoted its golden jubilee to works from the composer’s so known as Galley Years, which included Un giorno di regno (1840), Verdi’s second opera, and Ernani (1844), Verdi’s fifth.

La battaglia di Legnano (1849), nevertheless, is a unique form of beast.

For one factor, of Verdi’s 27 operas, La battaglia di Legnano is 14th, so midway by the composer’s oeuvre. If Rigoletto (1851) begins Verdi’s masterworks, it’s simply three operas sooner or later. Thus, La battaglia di Legnano is sitting on the cusp of greatness. But, it’s hardly ever carried out, the reason is, from my perspective, is that its music shouldn’t be what we’d time period typical Verdi.


The opera was written as a result of Verdi was challenged to create a purely patriotic work to help the Risorgimento motion which aimed to unify the Italian peninsula into one nation.

The opera is ready in 1176, when the Lombards defeated German emperor Frederick Barbarossa on the Battle of Legnano. In 1849, nevertheless, Lombardy and Venetia have been a part of the Austrian empire, so this opera was going to have bother with the Austrian censors, in addition to issues with the censors in all the opposite impartial kingdoms, duchies and city-states that have been towards Risorgimento.

Even Ricordi, the writer of Verdi and librettist Cammarano, begged them to vary the setting, and in reality, over the following 21 years, the opera was by no means staged utilizing its unique Lombardy locale.

It wasn’t till after Italian Unification was accomplished in 1870 with the taking of Rome, that La battaglia di Legnano could possibly be carried out as initially written. However, by then, Risorgimento was a factor of the previous. In reality, La battaglia di Legnano has been accused of being too linked to a selected time and concept.

The one place that noticed the opera as supposed was Rome’s Teatro Argentina, who had commissioned it. On the time, Rome was holding Pope Pius IX as a prisoner (he later escaped), having declared itself a republic, so one can solely think about the sheer pleasure that greeted this Risorgimento opera. In reality, at each Rome efficiency, the final act, which ends with the ode to freedom, (“Italia risorge vestita di Gloria”), needed to be encored.

The Story

The explanation I’m giving a lot background is as a result of it explains simply how completely different this opera is from the Verdi canon, stuffed as it’s with rousing male choruses, which might additionally clarify why it’s hardly ever carried out. As effectively, the arias and duets should not as melodic or tuneful. There may be an edge to them, notably for the boys, as a substitute of the extra frequent Verdi lilt. The martial factor is entrance and centre. In reality, I’d name this opera a tough sing.

Sure, there’s a love story — Lida (soprano Julia MacVicar) believes her suitor Arrigo (tenor Scott Rumble) is lifeless within the wars, and so marries his greatest pal Rolando (baritone Evan Korbut) on the behest of her dying father. Rolando is the chief of the Milanese. Evidently, Arrigo shouldn’t be lifeless, and a love triangle ensues.

Surrounding these intimate scenes are the political ones, and the male refrain had an amazing deal to do, expertly led by the inimitable Robert Cooper. There was a whole lot of a cappella work which actually uncovered the sound, so the boys needed to be in advantageous fettle, and so they have been.

In reality, the feminine refrain, though sounding luscious, solely seems thrice — the primary offstage with interjections to the opening male refrain “Viva Italia!”, the second in Lida’s chambers, and the final, becoming a member of the boys within the victory refrain on the finish.

The Music

The music director for La battaglia di Legnano was Helen Becqué, a U of T doctoral candidate from Belgium, and he or she’s a keeper.

Becqué would possibly look younger, however she has the chops. She definitely tried to make her piano sound like an orchestra, notably within the construct she gave to the overture, though, throughout the remainder of the opera, her taking part in was fairly restrained, placing the concentrate on the singers.

In the course of the recits, she left the solid nearly a cappella, solely often taking part in a chord for definition, thus permitting the voices to be uncovered au naturel. An enormous Becqué plus was getting most expression out of the singers. This opera had drama.

In studying soprano MacVicar’s bio, they appear to be brief on skilled expertise, however they’ve a voice to be reckoned with. Lida’s function was written with ornamentation up the whazoo, possibly to compensate for all of the male testosterone that surrounds her. MacVicar needed to snake their singing up, down, and throughout the city, which they did with aplomb. This soprano can spin notes eternally. Additionally they have a robust prime, and may pour on the facility when wanted.

Tenor Rumble was wonderful. He has a ringing, however very compelling voice, and what’s extra, he appears to succeed in his excessive notes with ease. So far as I can inform, he went for all the cash notes. Rumble additionally occurs to be an distinctive actor, so he had an amazing deal to do with the influence of dramatic expression. Will he ever sing Verdi in actual life? Who is aware of, as a result of his voice, at this level, shouldn’t be fairly spinto, however he’s definitely a expertise to observe.

Indigenous baritone Evan Korbut has a beautiful voice, if a bit on the sunshine facet. Mellow and honey-covered, his sound is straightforward on the ears. As an actor he will be fairly dramatic, however, given this particular opera, I wanted extra oomph from Rolando — extra declamation, a extra forceful supply — briefly, I wanted him to be extra of a frontrunner. Nonetheless, he interacted effectively with MacVicar and Rumble to make the love triangle work.

An astonishing seven comprimario roles have been coated by the refrain, the most important being Barbarossa, sung by baritone Handaya Rusli. Whereas he regarded on the younger facet for the function, he gave as a lot command as he might muster, and was rewarded with robust applause on the curtain name.

Baritone Sebastien Belcourt sang strongly within the small function of the evil Marcovaldo (he could also be one to observe), whereas baritones Joseph Ernst, Taylor Gibbs, and Ryan Moilliet, acquitted themselves effectively as the 2 consuls and Podesta, respectively.

I’ve to say that regardless that mezzo-sopranos Meghan Symon, as Lida’s companion Imelda, and Maria Milenic because the Herald, had small roles, each displayed a wealthy, full sound that caught my consideration.

And naturally, OIC’s inventive director, Guillermo Silva-Marin, was available to offer minimal staging and fairly efficient lighting.

La battaglia di Legnano is an odd Verdi opera that was given the possibility to return out of the shadows, and it was effectively well worth the go to.

Are you trying to promote an occasion? Have a information tip? Must know the perfect occasions taking place this weekend? Ship us a word.


Get the every day arts information straight to your inbox.

Join the Ludwig Van Toronto e-Blast! — native classical music and opera information straight to your inbox HERE.

Paula Citron
Newest posts by Paula Citron (see all)

Recent Articles

Related Stories

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here