Giuseppe Verdi – Luisa Miller
CAST: Luisa Miller: Marina Rebeka; Laura: Corinna Scheurle; Federica: Judit Kutasi; Rodolfo: Ivan Magrì; Miller: George Petean; Count Walter: Marko Mimica; Wurm: Ante Jerkunica; A Peasant: Bernhard Schneider
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Howard Arman, chorus master
Ivan Repušic, conductor
BR Klassic, 2018
Luisa Miller is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s early operas. It was composed for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples to a libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, the same librettist of one of Verdi’s most popular works, Il Trovatore (we reviewed an excellent recording of this opera here). Luisa Miller premiered in 1849 with a cast which was not outstanding apart from the baritone (Achille De Bassini), but it was successful.
In the 20th century, Luisa Miller never had on stage the same achievements it had in studio. Its discography is not rich and yet it is excellent. It is worth remembering Anna Moffo and above all Montserrat Caballé as two amazing Luisas and Luciano Pavarotti and Carlo Bergonzi as two of the greatest Rodolfos. The present recording, released in 2018 by BR Klassik, has been made during some live performances at the Prinzregententheater in Munich in September 2017. It is a very good addition to the discography of Luisa Miller, but not an excellent one. This conclusion is due to the inferiority of one of the most important members of the cast (the tenor) not only in comparison with the great singers of the past, but also in comparison with his own colleagues.
Luisa Miller: the Performance
Marina Rebeka (Luisa Miller)
Marina Rebeka must be considered among the finest sopranos of our time. The release of her excellent album of Rossini arias (Amor Fatale) in 2017 almost precisely corresponds to the recording of the present opera and make us enjoy again a voice which is at the same time powerful, caressing and agile. Her performance as Luisa Miller gives prominence to the sentimental and pathetic side of the heroine, with a depth and a style that reveal a great interpreter.
Rebeka’s temperament suits the character very well. It makes appear the unlucky heroine like an angel – an angel, however, who is remarkable not only for her virtuosity, which make her sing even the most demanding passages with complete self-assurance, but also for her strength and fluency. Her voice is large and ringing. There is something astonishing in the way Rebeka hits the high notes, which reveal her incredible energy and that have a luminous and clear sound, which is particularly sumptuous in Tu puniscimi, o Signore from the second act and in the desperate finale.
In the end, it can be said that Rebeka’s Luisa is flawless and ideal.
Ivan Magrì (Rodolfo)
Tenor Ivan Magrì does not stand in comparison with the protagonist. His voice is right for this role, but in this is his only good quality. The intonation is not at all consistent, his phrasing is not good and usually the most awkward effects accompany it. His registers do not connect well and his high notes are often inaccurate. In these conditions, the fate of Quando le sere al placido, on which the popularity of Luisa Miller is based, and also of the most dramatic passages, is settled. Overall, the best thing to do with his performance is to forget it.
The Other Singers and the Conduction
The rest of the cast is fine and even excellent, beginning with George Petean (Miller) and Ante Jerkunica (Wurm). The former is in good voice and sings with smoothness, coupling the best technical skills with remarkable sensitivity. Jerkunica is even deeper in his performance and he characterizes Wurm as a sinister villain. As for Marko Mimica (Walter), he is remarkable not only for his elegant phrasing, which allows him to sing endless legato, but also for the flexibility of his voice.
Also Judit Kutasi is noteworthy as Federica. Her velvety timbre and expressiveness cannot go unnoticed and her clear phrasing and dramatic commitment reveal an amazing interpreter.
At last, Ivan Repušic conducts with energy and strength. He gives to Luisa Miller a precise direction embellished by shimmering colours that the recorded sound preserves.
In the end, the bad performance of the tenor is the only reason to complain about this Luisa Miller. This is even more regrettable because of the excellence of the other singers, beginning with Marina Rebeka in the title role, and of the conduction. These are so good, however, that, if they cannot remedy to the weak point, they still maintain the high level and it is worth listening to this recording for them.