Amilcare Ponchielli's sole operatic work La Gioconda made him a major figure in Italy. It was not just the title that made it such a success - 'La Gioconda' is the Italian term for the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting that is better known to the English-speaking world as 'Mona Lisa' - but rather its music and the poetic quality of Arrigo Boito's score. The production featured here was taken from a 1986 performance of the Vienna State Opera. Filippo Sanjust was responsible for production and set, Gerlinde Dill was in charge of choeography, whilst Adam Fischer conducted both choir and orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. Internationally renowned stars Eva Marton and Placido Domingo, who play the leading roles in the performance, ensure an unforgettable operatic experience.
This Bartered Bride ’s acting and singing is generally of a high level. Lucia Popp was caught at a perfect time for this role. She’d gradually been developing her voice into a larger, more dramatic instrument, and here displays a lyric’s warmth with the power of a spinto. She clearly enjoys the challenge of the only serious aria in the entire work (in act III; performed in German as “Wie fremd und tot”), providing many fine interpretative points and a great deal of tonal variety. The audience goes wild, as well they might.