Hooray for Holy Land

As the rumored return of I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata to the Met isn’t happening during the just-announced 2017-18 season, Trove Thursday presents as compensation Verdi’s French revision Jérusalem with Cecilia Gasdia, Veriano Luchetti and Silvano Carroli conducted by Donato Renzetti

Although not a new opera, Jérusalem was Verdi’s first work to premiere in Paris: a revision of his 1843 Lombardi. He didn’t compose a brand-new work for the French capital: Les Vêpres Siciliennes–until eight years after Jérusalem’s first performance. Lombardi has not been performed at the Met since its somewhat ill-fated run during the 1993-94 season and has only been revived infrequently elsewhere.

Its French version has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently with productions in Bonn and Freiburg and upcoming performances in Liège and Parma, the latter with Annick Massis, Ramon Vargas and Michele Pertusi scheduled to appear.

“Trove Thursday” presented a Vêpres a while back with a completely Francophone cast, but this 1984 Paris Opéra presentation surprisingly features instead three of the leading Italian singers of the 80s. None of them appeared more than briefly at the Met: just four or five performances each. Oddly Gasdia and Luchetti appeared there in just a single French role, she as Gounod’s Juliette; he as Don José. Luchetti had a very appealing tenor that I liked very much but I never managed to hear him live.

On the other hand I did catch one of Gasdia’s rare US appearances–at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Bellini’s Amina in La Sonnambula in which she was charming and moving rather than dazzling. Sharp-eyed readers of the cast-list will also note the presence of mezzo/opera critic par excellence Judith Malafronte in the role of Isaure.

This week’s offering can be downloaded via the audio-player included on this page. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, this week’s Jêrusalem, last week’s Carmen and nearly 60 other “Trove Thursday” podcasts remain available from iTunes (for free!) or via any RSS reader.

Verdi: Jerusalem

Paris Opera
January 1984

Helene: Cécilia Gasdia
Isaure: Judith Malafronte
Gaston: Veriano Luchetti
Roger: Silvano Carroli
Count: Alain Fondary
Raymond: Kenneth Collins

Conductor: Donato Renzetti