Prom 72 included two of this Proms Season’s theme: Verdi 200 and the Tchaikovsky symphony cycle. The Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi made their Proms debut with conductor Xian Zhang.
The first half was a celebration of one of this year’s birthday boys, Giuseppe Verdi. It was a compilation of some of the best bits from Verdi’s operas, with the pieces played in the following order:
La forza del destino – overture
Attila – ‘O dolore! Ed io vivea’
I vespri siciliani – ‘À toi que j’ai chérie’
La traviata – Prelude (Act 1)
Simon Boccanegra – ‘O inferno! … Sento avvampar nell’anima’
Aida – Triumphal March (Act 2)
Luisa Miller – ‘O fede negar potessi … Quando le sere al placido’
Rigoletto – ‘La donna è mobile’
Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, who was heard on Last Night of the Proms last year, returned to the Royal Albert Hall to sing the arias. All of these Verdi pieces were, of course, very well played by the OSMGV, as one would expect when they take their name from the composer in question! As much as they were well played, and seemed to be wildly enjoyed by the Royal Albert Hall audience, they didn’t do a lot for me, mostly as I’m not a big opera fan. I do always enjoy the Aida – Triumphal March however.
The second half of Prom 72 concluded this Proms Season’s cycle of the Tchaikovsky Symphonies, ending with his un-numbered Manfred Symphony, which Tchaikovsky wrote between his Symphonies Number 4 and 5. Considering what absolute symphonic gems the 4th and 5th symphonies are, the Manfred is a bit of a letdown. This work does divide conductor’s opinions – it seems to be a very love or hate work. I just feel a bit eh about it. It was good, but it’s far from being one of Tchaikovsky’s best works. The OSMGV performed a very energetic encore Rossini’s William Tell overture. Huge cheer from the audience at the end, very well deserved.