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Verdi, Giuseppe

The Force of Destiny. English National Opera Guide 23

English National Opera Guides are ideal companions to the opera. They provide stimulating introductory articles together with the complete text of each opera in English and the original.

Verdi’s ´War and Peace´, writes Peter Conrad of this epic opera composed for St. Petersburg in 1862. It encompasses the extremes of a religious and secular existence - the worlds of the lovers pursued by an uncompromising fate and of the people in the scenes at the inn and on the battlefield. Despite its beautiful score, this opera has often seemed nonsensical and confusing: Richard Bernas shows us how the music is devised as a convincing entity and Bruce A. Brown traces the tortuous but fascinating history of the revisions.

Is it an exercise in Brechtian detachment? How far are the values of the gipsy girl a dramatic counterweight to the spirituality of Leonora, Verdi’s most haunted heroine? Such questions are prompted by a consideration of this vital text in Andrew Porter’s new English translation. At least as great as ´Don Carlos´ - which Verdi wrote between the two versions of this opera - ´The Force of Destiny´ deserves a serious reassessment.

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