As part of the seventieth birthday celebrations for Riccardo Chailly in February 2023, Decca is delighted to announce a new album of Verdi Choruses conducted by the Maestro with the orchestral and choral forces of La Scala, where he is Music Director. The album also marks two other remarkable milestones: it will be forty-five years since Chailly’s debut at La Scala, and also since he first signed an exclusive contract with Decca.
The repertoire spans much of Verdi’s output, and includes choruses both familiar and less well-known. Among the former are "Gloria all Egitto" (the Triumphal Scene) from Aida, "Va, pensiero" (the chorus of the Hebrew slaves) from Nabucco, the Witches’ Chorus from Macbeth, and the Anvil Chorus from Il trovatore. The pieces cover a vast array of situations and moods, from serious to sparkling, from sacred to secular, and from blacksmithery to sorcery. The recording draws on the deep connection which the musicians have with these scores, stemming from Verdi’s own relationship with La Scala. The composer’s first four operas, and his final two, received their world premieres here, and the theatre owns important busts and paintings of the composer, which are proudly displayed.
As Riccardo Chailly reaches his seventieth birthday, audiences can celebrate the conductor’s own equally important relationship with La Scala. It began in 1978 when a 25 year-old Chailly (whose father had previously been artistic director of La Scala) made his debut stepping in for the conductor Gianandrea Gavazzeni, who had become indisposed at the last moment: the opera in question was I masnadieri by Verdi. The occasion was a triumph, and Chailly has often subsequently returned to work at La Scala, frequently in works by Verdi. He was appointed music director in 2017.
1978 proved to be something of an annus mirabilis for Chailly, for this was also the year in which he signed an exclusive recording contract with Decca, a contract which holds to this day. Chailly’s discs – many of them created with the orchestral and choral musicians of La Scala - have sold in their millions, and won many awards.
Reviewers have often responded with the highest acclaim to their performances. When Chailly and the musicians of La Scala appeared in London recently, sparks certainly flew. "Luxurious sophistication… attention to detail, and spacious phrasing that breathed as a star singer might breathe. Remarkable," said The Arts Desk. Commenting on Chailly’s work with lesser-known Verdi scores, Musicweb International said that ‘it makes a real difference having a top-flight band [such as the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala] to perform this music… Chailly doesn’t pull any dramatic punches with his blistering attack.’ Critic David Mellor says that ‘Chailly can lay claim to being the greatest conductor working today’ (Classic FM).
Here, then, is an album which forms both a great recording and a superb birthday gift.
‘Verdi Choruses From La Scala’ tracklist:
Nabucco: Act One: "Gli arredi festivi"
Nabucco: Act Three: "Va, pensiero" (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves)
I Lombardi: Act Three: "Gerusalem"
I Lombardi: Act Four: "O Signore, dal tetto natìo"
Ernani: Act One: "Preludio"
Ernani: Act Three: "Si redesti il Leon di Castiglia"
Don Carlo: Act Three: "Spuntato ecco il dì d'esultanza"
Macbeth: Act One: "Che faceste? dite su!"
Macbeth: Act One: "Coro di Streghe, S'allontanarono!"
Macbeth: Act Four: "Patria oppressa! Il dolce nome"
Il Trovatore: Act Two: "Vedi le fosche notturne spoglie"
La Forza del Destino: Act Three: "Tarantella, Nella guerra è la follia"
Aida: Act Two: "Gloria all'Egitto, ad Iside"
Aida: Act Two: "Triumphal March and Ballet"
Aida: Act Two: "Vieni, o Guerriero vindice"
Simon Boccanegra: "Prologue: Viva Simon"
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