Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Wed, 08 Dec 2021 03:09:49 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Donizetti - Anna Bolena New York, Met, 2011 Donizetti - Anna Bolena New York, Met, 2011

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1. Act One
2. Act Two


Ildar Abdrazakov (Henry VIII)
Anna Netrebko (Anna Bolena)
Ekaterina Gubanova (Jane Seymour)
Stephen Costello (Percy)
Tamara Mumford (Smeaton)

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Choir
Marco Armiliato - director


In 1957, when Maria Callas prepared to take on the role of Donizetti’s Anne Boleyn — “Anna Bolena,” in opera terms — she worked for months beforehand with a coach; with the conductor, Gianandrea Gavazzeni; and with the stage director, Luchino Visconti. Callas was the greatest soprano star of the time and a sure box-office hit, but her main concern was getting the role right.

In 2011, Anna Netrebko, the soprano superstar du jour, has started taking on Anna Bolena herself -- first at the Vienna State Opera in April, and now at the Metropolitan Opera, where she opened the season in the company’s first-ever production of the opera on Monday night. Netrebko is today’s most popular international soprano, and has been hailed, like Callas before her, as a great singing actress. Yet her “Anna Bolena” showed none of the detailed work and care that made Callas’s so memorable. Monday’s performance was littered with missed intonations, smeared runs, and a good deal of running about stage with clasped hands, a move that evidently qualifies as operatic acting in many people’s books.

Netrebko has a beautiful voice, and though it sometimes lacked the stamina for this long evening there was one moment on Monday when it really shone. In the aria in the final scene, when the character is lapsing in and out of madness, she sat back and let her signature limpid, round, melting tone pour out. The audience, delighted finally to have something to applaud, rewarded her with a deserved ovation, and the singer acknowledged their applause with a warm smile. Netrebko is not someone who worries too much about staying in character.

For the rest -- oh, for the kind of care that La Scala lavished on Donizetti’s lengthy opera about Henry VIII’s court. “Anna Bolena” is a high-maintenance piece in which Donizetti worked to integrate drama and music and move away from 1830s operatic convention: long and slightly static, it needs a lot of TLC to get it on stage convincingly. But the Met seemed to go out of its way to support the allegation of its erstwhile head, Rudolf Bing, that the opera was “an old bore.”

It would have helped to cast singers who were actually suited to the parts: the first act, in particular, bore some of the trappings of an apprentice cast. (Indeed, the best showing came from an alum of the Met’s young artist program, Tamara Mumford, who showed a dark-toned voice in the pants role of the page/musician Smeaton.) The tenor Stephen Costello, almost 30, who sang the part of Percy (the man Anna threw over to marry the King), again showed the reasons he has been hailed as promising with a supple, lyric tenor that grew increasingly confident in melodic lines; unfortunately, it did not include either stamina or top notes. The Met has been grooming the bass Ildar Abdrazakov, who sang Enrico (Henry VIII), but star quality has failed so far to materialize, which left us on Monday with a youthful cipher of no particular vocal impact in lieu of a scene-chewing villain.

Casting Ekaterina Gubanova as Jane (Giovanna) Seymour, whom Enrico wants to marry once he’s gotten rid of Anna, was a stopgap measure, since the originally scheduled Giovanna, Elina Garanca, pulled out of the production due to pregnancy; but the role calls for a voice a couple of sizes larger than Gubanova’s, though she exerted herself manfully and improved in the second half, in her duet with Anna, to give her best singing of the night.

All of the singers would have benefited from a good drilling in bel canto style, but they weren’t going to get it from Marco Armiliato, a journeyman conductor who gave an undistinguished, heavy-handed reading in the pit.

There wasn’t even any help to be had from the director David McVicar, whose brand of realism was not a good fit for the demands of Italian bel canto. Robert Jones’s sets and Jenny Tiramani’s costumes limned the Tudor court in dark shades of gray and black with touches of red -- the default operatic color palette -- and placed the action in the ubiquitous netherworld of historical accuracy with a modern twist, which meant large white walls moving around the stage to create random-seeming spaces within the palace. McVicar, too, added gratuitous modern touches: having Smeaton veritably throw himself down on the Queen’s fainting body, or, at the end, having the mad Anna twist up her hair as if about to hang herself by it — to say nothing of having the whole set rise up to reveal a lower level, which did nothing other than demonstrate the technical resources the Met has on display.

The whole thing seemed like an idea that had worked well on paper and gone wrong in practice. We’ll get the leading soprano to open the season! We’ll put in some young singers to show that we’re grooming future stars! We’ll bring in a director known for his psychological penetration, since after all this was a plumb role for Callas, the great actress! Alas, what this all added up to was an evening that represented what too many members of the glittering opening-night crowd probably expect of opera: something long, dull, and not very believable, with a lot of gesticulation and, under it all, some pretty music.

Even Netrebko, the big star, still comes off as a willing novice, someone who doesn’t always live up to her considerable potential. If she approached the part with the focus and commitment of a Maria Callas, or if opera companies today actually invested time in helping singers to master the music they’re performing, the evening might have been a whole lot better. ---Washington Post

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Sun, 07 Oct 2012 16:45:20 +0000
Donizetti - Il Borgomastro di Saardam (1973) Donizetti - Il Borgomastro di Saardam (1973)

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CD 1
01. Overture (6:13)
02. Forza, o braccio, ai destri colpi (Chorus) (4:29)
03. Perche tu non m'ami (Flimann) (4:37)
04. Non partir!... Qui venir! (Ensemble) (3:53)
05. Queste novelle frutta (Marietta) (6:53)
06. Fate largo al borgomastro! (Vambett) (8:08)
07. Come ha fisso in me lo sguardo (Flimann) (4:41)
08. Son di Moscova, mi chiamo Pietro (Czar) (5:29)
09. Versiamo il liquor (Chorus) (3:20)
10. Dei saper ch'io vado in traccia (Vambett) (4:35)
11. Dar percosse ad un dottore (Vambett) (5:35)
12. E' per voi, signor, tal foglio (Uffiziale) (4:24)

CD 2
01. Lo Czar adunque (Ali) (3:12)
02. Allor che tutto tace (Flimann) (4:48)
03. Da te lontana (Marietta) (4:42)
04. Vili! qual folle ardir (Czar) (3:20)
05. Non piu di Barbara (Czar) (5:18)
06. Senza tanti complimenti (Marietta) (4:03)
07. Insolentissima! Lingua di vipera (Vambett) (4:05)
08. Qual colpo! giusto ciel! (Czar) (2:12)
09. Quanto e grata a voi quest'alma (Marietta) (6:56)

Marietta - Ans Philippo
Pietro Flimann - Philip Langridge
Pietro Mikailoff - Peter van der Berg
Vambett - Renato Capecchi
Carlotta - Let Kiel
Leforte - Peter Lehmann Bedford
Ali Mohamed - Nico Boer

Orchestre Gewestelijc de Hollande méridionale
Direction - Jan Schaap
Live from Zaandam (NL)  May 26th 1973


Il Burgomastro di Saardam is a two act opera buffa. It premiered at the Teatro nel Fondo in Naples on August 9, 1827. The Neapolitans loved it, for Donizetti was very popular in that city, but when it was staged at the Teatro La Scala in Milan, it completely failed. Its Milan failure was a source of great satisfaction to the competitive Bellini, whose Il Pirata was received with great critical and popular acclaim in Milan at about the same time. The original cast included the celebrated prima donna Carolina Ungher, for whom the lead role was composed. She completely shone at the premiere, and she was surrounded by a strong cast as well, which included the buffo bass Carlo Casaccia. The score contains many Rossinisms and Donizetti's characteristically genial approach to opera buffa writing. The libretto, by Domenico Gilardoni, was based on Le bourgmestre de Sardam, ou Les deux Pierre, a French play from 1818. Albert Lortzing set the same story in his opera Zar und Zimmerman in 1837. The story is a gentle one about the good natured generosity of a Russian ruler. ---Rita Laurance,

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Thu, 18 May 2017 15:58:20 +0000
Donizetti - Il Diluvio Universale (2006) Donizetti - Il Diluvio Universale (2006)

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1. Act I: Sinfonia
2. Act I Scene 1: Introduzione e Preghiera: Oh Dio di pieta
3. Act I Scene 1: Cavatina: Di Cadmo la consorte
4. Act I Scene 2: Cavatina: Mentre il core abbandonava
5. Act I Scene 2: Cavatina: Perche nell'alma
6. Act I Scene 2: Cavatina: Corriam l'arca a incenerir - Scene 3: Su, compagni, quella mole
7. Act I Scene 3: Cavatina: In quell'arca rispettate
8. Act I Scene 3: Cavatina: Si. Quell'arca nell'ira de' venti play
9. Act I Scene 3: Dopo l'Introduzione: Di Cadmo il cenno ognun per or sospenda
10. Act I Scene 4: Dopo l'Introduzione: Qui vederlo poss'io! - Scene 5: Ov'e Cadmo?
11. Act I Scene 5: Dopo l'Introduzione: Sela! ? Ah tu non la vedesti
12. Act I Scene 5: Dopo l'Introduzione: Oh gioia! Un tanto eccesso
13. Act I Scene 6: Dopo l'Introduzione: Ada, e non altri qui ritrovo?
14. Act I Scene 6: Duetto: Ah perfida! A me spergiura ?
15. Act I Scene 6: Duetto: Con mio dolor rammento
16. Act I Scene 7: Finale Atto Primo: Franco inoltrate il pie
17. Act I Scene 8: Finale Atto Primo: Taccion finanche l'aure!
18. Act I Scene 8: Finale Atto Primo: Quel che del ciel su I cardini
19. Act I Scene 9: Finale Atto Primo: Padre ? Ah sappi ? - Scene 10: Si ? Tu dunque fedele l'attendi
20. Act I Scene 10: Finale Atto Primo: Cadmo! ? Oh cielo!
21. Act I Scene 12: Finale Atto Primo: Signor, dell'empio I figli
22. Act I Scene 12: Finale Atto Primo: Ah! Ti calma!

1. Act II Scene 1: Recitativo ed Aria: Non mi tradir, speranza!
2. Act II Scene 1: Recitativo ed Aria: Ah non tacermi in core
3. Act II Scene 1: Recitativo ed Aria: Sara lieve il mio tormento
4. Act II Scene 2: Dopo l'Aria Ada: Ada, t'arresta.
- Scene 3: Vieni mia fida amica.
5. Act II Scene 3: Duetto: Non profferir parola play
6. Act II Scene 3: Duetto: Ebben se chiudo
7. Act II Scene 3: Duetto: E tanta crudeltade
8. Act II Scene 4: Preghiera: Gli empi 'l circondano
9. Act II Scene 4: Preghiera: Ah! ? Padre?
- Scene 5: Per mia cagion (Sela, Noe) - Scene 6: Onde aprirti il sentiero
10. Act II Scene 6: Aria: Dio tremendo, onnipossente
11. Act II Scene 6: Finale Atto Secondo: Ah! L'abisso freme
12. Act III Scene 1: Coro e Ballabile: Stirpe angelica, ti bea
13. Act III Scene 1: Recitativo ed Aria: Si. Popoli, gioite.
- Scene 2: Donna spergiura, infida! ?
14. Act III Scene 2: Recitativo ed Aria: Senza colpa mi scacciasti
15. Act III Scene 2: Recitativo ed Aria: Non dar fede a quegli accenti
16. Act III Scene 2: Recitativo ed Aria: Perche ignoro brivido
17. Act III Scene 2: Finale Atto Terzo: Man ? ca ? il ? respir ? !!!
- Scene 3: Ah! Non mai viste tenebre - Scene 4

Noè - Mirco Palazzi
Jafet - Simon Bailey
Sem - Mark Wilde
Cam - Dean Robinson
Tesbite - Irina Lungu
Asfene - Ivana Dimitrijevic
Abra - Anne Marie Gibbons
Cadmo - Colin Lee
Sela - Majella Cullagh
Ada - Manuela Custer
Artoo - Roland Wood

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
Giuliano Carella, 2005


Il diluvio universale (The great flood) is an azione tragico-sacra, or opera, by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Domenico Gilardoni after Lord Byron's Heaven and Earth and Padre Ringhieri's Il diluvio. The opera premiered at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples on February 28, 1830. It failed to become an instant success. It is known that the premiere producion had to be handed in as an Oratorio to the censors of the church, as its date was within the period of fasting and was only allowed due to its biblical story. A production of a version revised by Donizetti was opened on January 17th, 1834 at the Genoa Teatro Carlo Felice. After another staging in 1837 in Paris, the opera paused for an incredible 147 years before being staged once again in Genoa in 1985. The first production in Switzerland was taking place at St. Gallen where since 2006 an opera is being produced open air in front of the Cathedral around the first weekend of July. This production is currently on at the St. Galler Festspiele 2010 until July 9th where Mirco Palazzi, Majella Cullagh and Manuela Custer from the recording mentioned are to be seen on stage.

What a wonderful opera! I'm surprised I haven't heard anyone write about this yet. I've had it on my wish list of operas to get since it came out but only just got it today and I must admit I wish I had bought it sooner. This piece has it all. Everything you expect from Donizetti and more. The entire opera delivers the excitement and splendour that make almost all of Donizetti's operas genuine treats to listen to. The orchestra and preformers all do a great job and bring much to the opera. As per usual with all opera-rara albums there is a thick book with a complete history and libretto and a huge box. As for the opera itself it starts with a wonderful sinfonia and from there a haunting and brilliant Introduzione and from there it just keeps going and keeping with all expectations you may have. And when you get to track 8 "Si, quell' arca nell'ira de'venti" you instantly recognise where Donizetti got his theme for "La fille du regiment". The opera is about the famous flood of the bible and Noah and his family with a small subplot thats not in the bible but necessary to spice the piece up for the italian opera audiences of the day. All in all this is a wonderful opera/oratorio (90% opera 10% oratorio despite Donizetti's intentions) and extremely enjoyable to listen to. For Donizetti fans and opera fans alike. -–Brett Farrell

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Thu, 16 Dec 2010 19:57:16 +0000
Donizetti - Lucia di Lammermoor (Callas) [1997] Donizetti - Lucia di Lammermoor (Callas) [1997]

1. Prelude	2:03
2. Percorrete...Percorriamo..le spiaggie vicine		2:28
3. Tu sei turbato!...E n'ho ben d'onde		2:51	
4. Cruda, funesta smania	2:19
5. Il tuo dubbio e omai certezza...Come vinti da stanchezza	2:11	
6. La pietade in suo favore		2:01
7. Ancor non giunse?		4:21
8. Regnava nel silenzio alto la notta e bruna	4:10
9. Quando, rapito in estasi		4:27
10. Egli s'avanza...Lucia, perdone se ad ora inusitata	2:33
11. Sulla tomba che rinserra il tradito genitore	3:06
12. Qui di sposa eterna fede...Ah, soltanto il nostro foco	1:35
13. Ah, talor del tuo pensiero venga un folgio messaggero	0:53
14. Verranno a te sull'aure i miei sospiri ardenti		4:53

1. Lucia fra poco a te verra...Tremante I'aspetto		3:03
2. Appressati, Lucia...Il pallor funesto, orrendo		5:09
3. Soffriva nel pianto...Une folle t'acese		3:45
4. Che fia?...Suonar di giubilo		1:22	
5. Se tradirmi tu potrai...Tu che vedi il pianto mio		2:07
6. Per te d'immenso giubilo...Per poco fra le tenebre		3:35
7. Dov'e Lucia?...Qui giungere or la vedrem		1:50
8. Piange la madre estinta		2:25
9. Chi mi frena in tal momento		7:29
10. T'allontata, sciagurato...Rispettate in me di Dio	1:15	
11. Sconsigliato! In queste porte chi ti giuda		2:03
12. Esci, fuggi, il furor che mi accende		2:07
13. D'immenso giubilo s'innalzi un grido	2:23	
14. Dalle stanza ove Lucia tratta avea col suo consorte		2:50
15. Oh! Qual funesto avvenimento!		3:26	
16. Il doce suono mi colpi di sua voce!... Ardon gli incensi	12:22	
17. Spargi d'amaro pianto		4:06	
18. Tombe degli avi miei		4:18
19. Fra poco a me ricovero data negletto avello		3:33	
20. Oh, meschina! Oh, fato orrendo!		4:25
21. Tu che a Dio spiegasti I'ali		5:37

Maria Callas – Lucia
Ronaldo Panerai – Enrico
Eugenio Fernandi – Edgardo
Dino Formichini – Arturo
Giuseppe Modesti – Raimondo
Elvira Galassi – Alisa
Valiano Natali – Normanno

Orchestra e Coro di Roma della RAI
Tulio Serafin – conductor, 1957


This recording is not only a document of immense historical interest, it also preserves in sound what is by all standards a magnificent performance of Donizetti's opera.

At the centre of the stage is, of course, Maria Callas. Her portrayal of Lucia in the Berlin performance captured here is a trifle more pallid than that in her first EMI studio recording. Some of the vocal accentuations are also less strongly etched than previously, although there continues to be lots of interesting details in her interpretation of the part. There is, by contrast, an increased tenderness in both characterisation and vocal utterance which highlights the vulnerability and helplessness of the heroine, and thereby making the final tragedy even more shocking and poignant. The "Mad Scene" is hauntingly introspective and it is thus entirely appropriate that Callas doesn't opt for an E flat in alt at the end of "Ardon gli incensi", which otherwise would have been musically and dramatically inconsistent with the interpretation of the scene. Nevertheless, Callas is generally in very good voice and her coloratura singing in the extended cadenza in the "Mad Scene" is, barring just one unsteady B flat, impressively executed. On the whole, she has given us a mesmerising portrayal of Lucia with many vocal delights along the way.

Opposite Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano gives what must be one of his best performances as Edgardo. Not only is he in marvellous vocal form, his singing is involving and red-blooded, making him the perfect romantic hero of great ardour. He is here also more subtle and stylish than usual, caressing his lines and even individual words in the act one duet. He performs the final scene with great sensitivity and succeeds in making this scene, which can be an anti-climax in some performances, a most tragically moving one.

The other cast members are also excellent. Rolando Panerai sings lustily as Enrico and, through his vocal acting, one can almost see how he put pressure onto her poor sister. Nicola Zaccaria is a warm and sympathetic Raimondo while Giuseppe Zampieri and Luisa Villa are respectively an aristocratic Arturo and an attentive Alisa. The La Scala Chorus, despite some ragged ensemble in places, sings with feeling and panache.

And there's Herbert von Karajan. Some people may wonder whether a Karajan is necessary for this opera, which is basically a vehicle for star singers. However, under the sure hands of Karajan, the orchestral playing is not only secure, it is also impressively sculpted with lots of light and shade (and some Beethovenian accents in Act II), which makes one appreciate the score afresh. It is evident that there exists a wonderful rapport between the stage and the pit and everything coalesce into a complete, consistent and organic whole, which never fails to move and thrill the listener.

As the recorded sound is above average for a stage performance in the mid-50s, this set has provided me with immense pleasure. Not only would I put it above both the studio versions of the opera with Callas, it is, to me, the ultimate LUCIA which no one should afford to miss. ---Vincent Lau,

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Wed, 15 Aug 2012 20:51:04 +0000
Donizetti - Pia de Tolomei [2005] Donizetti - Pia de Tolomei (Arrivabeni,Ciofi) [2005]

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1. Prelude
2. Atto I. Ancor nel fosco (Coro)
3. Non puo dirti la parola (Ghino)
4. Mi volesti sventurato? (Ghino)
5. Qui posa il fianco (Bice, Coro)
6. A voi son grata (Pia)
7. Oh tu che desti il Fulmine (Pia)
8. Pia... Lamberto che fu? (Lamberto, Pia)
9. Di pura gioia in estasi (Pia)
10. Giurai svenarlo (Nello, Ghino)
11. Parea celeste spirito (Nello, Ghino)
12. Di ciel che non punisce (Nello, Ghino)
13. In questa de' viventi (Rodrigo)
14. Mille volte sul campo d'onor (Rodrigo)
15. L'astro che regge i miei destini (Rodrigo)
16. Di Ghino il cenno udiste? (Ubaldo, Coro)
17. Fra queste braccia (Pia, Rodrigo)
18. L'uscio dischiudi o perfida (Nello, Lamberto, Rodrigo, Pia)
19. Ahime quell'anelito (Ghino, Nello, Pia, Coro)
20. Quel codardo ne deluse! (Ubaldo, Nello, Ghino, Pia, Coro)

1. Atto II. Cinto di rosse nubi (Coro)
2. Ah! Si Barbara minaccia (Rodrigo)
3. A me stesso (Rodrigo, Coro)
4. Tu, Ghino, alle Maremme? (Ubaldo, Ghino, Pia)
5. Si, morrai dai viventi abbominata (Ghino, Pia)
6. Ti muova il gemito (Pia, Ghino)
7. Ah! Nel tuo seno atroce (Pia, Ghino)
8. Puo la mia fiamma spegnersi (Ghino, Pia)
9. Divampera tremenda (Ubaldo)
10. Temporale/ Il mugghiar di si fera procella (Coro)
11. Un calpestio di rapidi cavalla (Piero, Nello)
12. Lei perduta in core ascondo (Nello)
13. Fragor di spade? (Nello, Ghino, Piero, Coro)
14. Ciel pietoso un cor ti parla (Nello, Piero, Coro)
15. A questo nappo bevera tra poco (Ubaldo, Pia)
16. Sposo, ah! tronca ogni dimora (Pia)
17. Pia…/ La voce… (Nello, Pia)
18. Ah! di Pi ache muore e geme (Pia, Rodrigo, Nello, Coro)

Pia – Patrizia Ciofi
Ghino degli Armieri – Dario Schmunck
Nello della Pietra – Andrew Schroeder
Rodrigo – Laura Polverelli
Piero – Daniel Borowski
Ubaldo – Francesco Meli
Bice – Clara Polito
Lamberto – Carlo Cigni
Il carceriere – Luca Favaron
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro La Fenice di Venezia
Direttore – Paolo Arrivabeni
Paolo Arrivabeni, P.Ciofi, D.Schmunck, A.Schroeder, L.Polverelli


Donizetti composed Pia de’ Tolomei during the summer and autumn of 1836 in Naples, where he was living at the time. In December he set out for Venice, where the premiere was planned for February the next year at the Teatro La Fenice He travelled via Livorno and Genoa but when he arrived in Genoa he was met by the news that the theatre had been destroyed by fire on the night of 12/13 December. He realized that there was a great risk that the premiere would be jeopardized. However the production was moved to Teatro Apollo and the premiere took place on 18 February 1837 as planned. Fanny Persiani, who had been the first Lucia di Lammermoor a couple of years earlier, took the title role. The opera was not an immediate success and Donizetti reworked it twice. The second time was for Naples in 1838, where the censors enforced important changes and a happy ending. The present production is based on the critical edition published by Ricordi, where the original tragic finale is restored.

History often repeats itself and on 29 January 1996 Teatro La Fenice was again destroyed by fire. After seven years of intense reconstruction work a Phoenix arose from the ashes. Its inauguration took place on 14 December 2003, almost to the day 167 years after that first disaster. When Pia de’ Tolomei was scheduled less than 1½ years later the performances were carried through without mishap and the result can be seen and heard on this wholly attractive set of DVDs.

“Why is it attractive? I’ve read that this is one the worst of Donizetti’s operas.” I can hear more than one jaded opera-freak’s distrustful grumble. Yes, I have read that too and I wasn’t all that hopeful when I started viewing. Things began badly by mistake I started playing the second disc first and ended up hopelessly at sea. “What has happened before and why don’t we know that?” was my reaction. I shouldn’t blame Dynamic but since the disc I put in my player was in its usual place on the right-hand side of the opened box and to the left was the booklet, I didn’t even notice the admittedly very large 2 on the label. Unfortunately disc 1 was obscured by the booklet. However, when starting from the beginning, I found the plot and layout fully comprehensible – which is not always the case with these more obscure operatic byways. The origin of the story is to be found in a few lines in Dante’s Divina Commedia and according to some scholars they refer to events in the poet’s own time, taking place in 1297. A poem on the subject had been published in 1822 and in April 1836 a play by Giacinto Bianco was staged in Naples. Donizetti must have known it and been inspired by it. His librettist Salvadore Cammarano was no mean author – no one can deny the dramatic qualities of Lucia di Lammermoor. This drama unfolds with few digressions from the main story in what is certainly a clear-cut libretto.

The plot goes along these lines: Ghino is in love with Pia but she is married to Nello, his cousin, and turns him down. In revenge he informs Nello that Pia is going to have a secret meeting with a lover. Her visitor is however her brother Rodrigo, who has just escaped from captivity. Rodrigo manages to escape Nello’s guards but Pia refuses to tell her husband who the visitor was and is condemned to imprisonment for life in his castle. Ghino visits her there and promises to set her free if she becomes his. She tells him who the visitor was and Ghino decides to tell Nello the truth. On his way he is attacked and mortally wounded. He manages to tell Nello about Pia’s innocence and Nello rushes to the castle to save her, since he has ordered Ubaldo to poison her. He arrives too late but before she dies Pia reconciles her brother to her husband. OK, this may not be a masterpiece of a story or a libretto but there are standard works that are not one iota better.

Secondly the music is fully worthy of the drama. Rarely in Donizetti’s operas is everything perfect. This was his 61st opera in twenty years – if we include often far-reaching revisions of some works. There was little time for him to go back and tidy up details. In most of his works he tends to lapse into clichés. That said, it is remarkable how often he avoids the temptation; how frequently he finds new expressions, new structures. In Pia de’ Tolomei he has long abandoned the recitative-aria-recitative pattern and builds long, continuous scenes – not seamless as later Verdi but still pointing forward to his brilliant successor. He is stuck in the aria-cabaletta pattern, rather along the same lines as middle period Verdi. In addition he far too often builds the cabalettas and other numbers on the almost mechanical rum-ti-tum rhythm with which we are also well acquainted from early and middle Verdi. But it really doesn’t matter as long as it is captivating – and very often with Donizetti it is. The opening chorus of act 2 – the first thing I heard in my reverse-order listening – is one stirring example. Rodrigo, a trouser role, has a rousing cabaletta in the dungeon scene in act 1 and in the same act there is a fine cabaletta duet for tenor and baritone that should be a splendid recital item. More original are Pia’s big solos which make her a close relative to the likewise ill-fated Lucia di Lammermoor. Technically this role requires the same amount of florid singing and sensitive pianissimo singing and it should be an attractive role for any good lyric-dramatic soprano. The leading tenor also has a couple of vocally and dramatically attractive arias. Then there is a beautiful duet for Pia and her brother Rodrigo – for soprano and mezzo-soprano – accompanied by plucked strings.

Thirdly the production is visually pleasing. The sets are of the modern-minimalist kind, with strict geometrical constructions and evocative lighting. Sometimes screens with texts are inserted. The costumes are timelessly-historical, if you can accept the contradiction in terms. The soldiers’ armoury could be anything from late 13th century to the Thirty Years’ War while Pia’s nightdress could be from the latest issue of Vogue. The grouping of the soldiers in the mass-scenes is also decorative though hardly based on dramatic necessity.

Fourthly the singing and acting of the principals is uniformly at the highest level. It has been a long time since I saw a DVD production with such high quality singing even from the comprimarios. Patrizia Ciofi’s Pia is ravishingly sung, deeply felt and convincingly acted. She seems in a state of mental disturbance from the very outset - an innocent victim. Technically speaking she is brilliant with fluent coloratura and the gift of delicate embellishments. Dario Schmunck is a lyrical and ardent Ghino – a singer I eagerly look forward to hearing again. His acting may be rather reticent but is still efficient. Andrew Schroeder is a powerful and dramatic Nello and sings with glowing tone. Laura Polverelli’s Rodrigo is also a character not to be taken lightly. In the smaller parts Carlo Cigni, sporting a magnificent basso cantante, is surely predestined for a grand career. The chorus have a lot to do, especially the male soldiery. They are vivid and powerful but not always the most homogenous of ensembles. The orchestra play well and Paolo Arrivabeni is obviously deeply inspired by this long neglected score.

Is it a forgotten masterpiece? Maybe not but it is far better than some works regularly performed and should not be returned to the archives for the eternal sleep. If it is, the Teatro La Fenice forces have seen to it that it will not be totally forgotten and opera lovers with a taste for the unusual should hasten to acquire this set. Technically this set is fully worthy of the occasion. There is a good booklet and subtitles are available in seven languages.

A work that is far better than its reputation, in an attractive production with splendid singing and acting. Should be snapped up by all opera lovers with a feeling for the unusual. ----- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Sat, 07 Jan 2012 10:43:32 +0000
Donizetti – Imelda de Lambertazzi (Elder) [2008] Donizetti – Imelda de Lambertazzi (Elder) [2008]

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Disc: 1
1. Act 1. Preludio. All'armi!
2. Act 1. Preludio. Amici! e qual risuona
3. Act 1. Preludio. Voi, che fulmini di guerra
4. Act 1. Preludio. Ah! si oda lo squillo
5. Act 1. Recitativo dopo l'Introduzione. Itale schiere
6. Act 1. Scena e Cavatina Imelda. Vincesti alfin!
7. Act 1. Scena e Cavatina Imelda. Amarti, e nel martoro
8. Act 1. Scena e Cavatina Imelda. Ma il Ciel non ode
9. Act 1. Recitativo dopo la Cavatina Imelda. E' il genitor nelle sue stanze, Imelda?
10. Act 1. Duetto. Ah! m'odi...
11. Act 1. Duetto. Non ti giurasti mia?
12. Act 1. Recitativo dopo il Duetto d'Imelda e Bonifacio. E' Orlando che si avanza!
13. Act 1. Finale Primo. Del cittadino al dritto
14. Act 1. Finale Primo. D'invitti Eroi degni nepoti!
15. Act 1. Finale Primo. Vengo a voi
16. Act 1. Finale Primo. L'incarco esponi
17. Act 1. Finale Primo. E quale pegno di stabil pace
18. Act 1. Finale Primo. Imelda!

Disc: 2
1. Act 2. Recitativo e Duetto. Segui i miei passi
2. Act 2. Recitativo e Duetto. Di Bonifacio il padre...
3. Act 2. Recitativo e Duetto. Tu l'hai spenta nel mio petto
4. Act 2. Recitativo dopo il Duetto. Mi narri il ver?
5. Act 2. Scena. Chi viene?
6. Act 2. Scena. Dolente a voi ritorno
7. Act 2. Aria di Bonifacio. Imelda a me volgea
8. Appendix. M'odi almen
9. Act 2. Duetto, Finale Secondo. Imelda... Lasciarti?
10. Act 2. Duetto, Finale Secondo. Ma volano rapidi
11. Act 2. Duetto, Finale Secondo. Addio per sempre!
12. Act 2. Duetto, Finale Secondo. Ove ten fuggi?
13. Act 2. Duetto, Finale Secondo. Morte al Guelfo!
14. Act 2. Duetto, Finale Secondo. Padre... son rea... lo vedo!

Nicole Cabell –Imelda (soprano); 
Massimo Giordano – Lamberto (tenor); 
Frank Lopardo – Orlando (tenor); 
James Westman – Bonifacio (baritone); 
Brindley Sherratt – Ubaldo (baritone)

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
Mark Elder – conductor


Imelda de’Lambertazzi immediately precedes Anna Bolena in the long line of Donizetti operas, and the two works could not be more different. The latter was an immediate success and the work that effectively brought the composer into the limelight, constructed on the large-scale Rossinian model (Semiramide, for example), while the former is Donizetti at his most concise and singular. The most important male role is Bonifacio, written for the baritone Antonio Tamburini, one of the great singers of his time. The two tenors are father and son, the son being more important musically, and to whom devolves an almost-aria embedded in the introduction. Orlando, the father, is dramatically if not musically present, and at the premiere was sung by a young tenor, thereby straining audience credibility since the role of the son Lamberto was taken by a considerably older singer. Imelda herself is a soprano, without much in the way of fioritura, who dies at the end in an arioso (replaced by the more customary cabaletta in a revival where the singer had more clout than the creator of the role). The story is one of warring clans, with Imelda enamored of the young man from the other side. Both she and her paramour die, with father and son pleased that the vendetta has been continued. All of this transpires with great rapidity, as Verdi later emulated in several of his “mid-period” operas. A limited performance history (thank you, Tom Kaufmann) lists Naples, Barcelona, La Coruña in rapid succession, followed more than 20 years later by Senigallia and then nothing until a rough-and-ready concert performance in 1989 by the Swiss Italian radio forces (perhaps still available on Nuova Era, though my copy has bronzed), and now Opera Rara to the rescue.

Nicole Cabell in the title role may be something of a surprise, as Donizetti requires little use of her high notes or coloratura facility, but she acquits herself well. Imelda’s final, dying arioso is perhaps the most inspired moment of the score and Cabell is more than touching. James Westman (a name new to me) shows a healthy baritone as Bonifacio, though his coloratura-ridden lines do not always come easily. His two duets with Imelda plus an aria make him the second most important character in the work. Both Massimo Giordano and Frank Lopardo (son and father) make the most of the occasional opportunity that comes their way, their voices sufficiently contrasted. Mark Elder already demonstrated in Dom Sébastien that he has the massive Donizetti under his fingers, but he is equally effective here, making us smile briefly at some of the composer’s less inspired moments (not many) but bringing out the drama. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with its mellow winds and brass, adds a color of its own that suits the dark tone of the work. We are perhaps better equipped today to understand what Donizetti was trying to do in 1830 and why this atypical work was unappreciated. Jeremy Commons’s customary exegesis leaves us in no doubt as to the importance of Imelda for a fuller understanding of a composer who is too often the subject of disparaging remarks. --- Joel Kasow, Fanfare

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Sat, 11 Aug 2012 18:42:21 +0000
Gaetano Donizetti - Anna Bolena (1973) Gaetano Donizetti - Anna Bolena (1973)

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1. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Sinfonia (Overture)
2. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Introduzione
3. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Ella di me, sollecita play
4. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Si taciturna e mesta
5. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Deh! Non voler costringere
6. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Come, innocente giovane
7. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Legger potessi in me! Non v'ha sguardo
8. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. O! qual parlar fu il suo!
9. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Si: l'avrete
10. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. La mia fama e á pie dell'ara
11. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Ella pure amor m'offria play
12. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Ah! qual sia cercar non oso
13. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Chi veggo?... in Inghilterra
14. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Da quel dì che, lei perduta
15. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Ah! cosí nei di ridenti
16. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Desta sì tosto
17. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Io sentii sulla mio mano
18. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Or che reso ai patri i lidi
19. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Questo di per noi spuntato

1. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. E'sgombro il loco...
2. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Ah! parea che per incanto
3. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Basta... basta... tropp' oltre vai...
4. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Anna! - Ricardo!
5. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. S'ei t'aborre, io t'anno ancora
6. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Ah!... per pietà del mio spavento
7. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Alcun potria ascoltarti
8. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. Tace ognuno play
9. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 1. In quegli sgardi impresso
10. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. O! Dove mai ne andarono
11. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. O mie fedeli
12. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Dio, che mi vedi in core
13. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Sul suo capo aggravi un Dio
14. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Dal mio cor punita io sono play
15. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Va, infelice, e teco reca

1. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Ebben? dinanzi ai giudici
2. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Scostatevi... il Re giunge...
3. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Ambo morrete
4. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Al Consiglio sien tratti
5. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Sposa a Percy
6. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Per questa fiamma indomita
7. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Stolta! nonsai...
8. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Ah! pensate che rivolti play
9. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Tu pur dannato a morte
10. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Vive tu, te ne scongiuro
11. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Nel veder la tua constanza
12. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Chi può vederla
13. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Piangete voi?
14. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Qual mesto suon?...
15. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Cielo, a' miei lunghi spasimi
16. Anna Bolena, opera: Act 2. Coppia iniqua play

Beverly Sills - Anna Bolena
Shirley Verrett - Giovanna Seymour
Patricia Kern - Smeton
Robert Lloyd - Lord Rocheford
Paul Plishka - Enrico VIII
Robert Tear - Sir Hervey

London Symphony Orchestra
Julius Rudel


Although the Donizetti revival of the 60's and 70's used great talents of such singers as Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland and Montserrat Caballe, Beverly Sills was the grandest of them all. She was as good an actress on the operatic stage as Maria Callas, and sang more beautifully and in superior dramatic vein than Joan Sutherland. It does not take a genius to realize how great a soprano she truly is. In her role as Anne Boleyn, she makes use of dramatic and coloratura flair, providing the listener with a dynamic, vivid performance that rouses our sympathy in her final moments- a twenty minute aria-finale in which she goes mad and is lead to the execution block. The overture makes use of dramatic moments, particularily the music used at the end of the opera. Act I is full of bel canto melody with drama and sentimentalism, especially in Anna's aria "Come Inocente Giovine" in which she reminisces about her first love, and her voice is full of nostalgia and pathos. This same sentiment appears again in her "Cielo, a mie spasimi lunghi", which is a variation on the melody "Home Sweet Home" that becomes a short trio. Shirley Verret gives her best performance, other than her Norma, in the role of Jane Seymour. Her powerful voice, capable of beauty and strength, is evident in her duet with Anna at the end of Act 2 and in her aria "La Mia Fama". The finale is impossible to miss. In this recording, the sound of church bells and festivity is heard as Henry 8th prepares to make Jane Seymour his wife.

Anna, imprisoned in the tower, loses her mind and sings a mad scene that is ancestral to Donizetti's greatest opera, Lucia Di Lammermoor. Anna believes she is about to be married to Henry 8th all over again, and that she is not going to be executed. But when she discovers that Henry is going to marry Jane Seymour and that her own execution draws near (a couple of victims in the conspiracy that Henry accuses her of are killed, mainly Anna's servant and musician, Smeton, who is in love with her), Anna becomes insane. She returns to her sanity only to realize her end is near, singing the taxing coloratura/dramatic aria "Copia Iniquia". Donizetti made his mark with this opera and was welcomed in the Italian stage, namely Naples and San Carlo. The music is as rousing and touching as the ensembles and finales to every act. Impressive recording. Beverly Sills said herself, when she recorded this in 1975, that Anna Bolena was her most easiest role. A lesson, she says, to sopranos tackling the role.. it is very easy to sing the flowing, sentimental arias and recitatives of Anna's character and there is enough time in the length of this opera (three acts, three cd's) to get warmed up for the more difficult finale-aria. ---A Kid’s Rewiev


Anna Bolena is a tragedia lirica, or opera, in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after Ippolito Pindemonte's Enrico VIII ossia Anna Bolena and Alessandro Pepoli's Anna Bolena, both telling of the life of Anne Boleyn. It premiered on December 26, 1830 at the Teatro Carcano, Milan.

The duet "Sul suo capo aggravi un Dio" between Anna (soprano) and Jane Seymour (mezzo soprano) is considered one of the finest in the entire operatic repertoire.

It is one of a number of operas by Donizetti which deal with the Tudor period in English history, including Roberto Devereux (named for a putative lover of Queen Elizabeth I of England), Maria Stuarda (named for Mary, Queen of Scots) and Il castello di Kenilworth. The lead female characters of the operas Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux are often referred to as the "Three Donizetti Queens."

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Tue, 01 Mar 2011 19:40:15 +0000
Gaetano Donizetti - Anna Bolena (Sutherland) [1985] Gaetano Donizetti - Anna Bolena (Sutherland) [1985]

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Anna Bolena - Joan Sutherland 
Enrico - James Morris 
Giovanna - Judith Forst 
Percy - Michael Myers 
Rochefort - Gidon Saks 
Smeton - Janet Stubbs 
Hervey - Ben Heppner

Canadian Opera Company Chorus and Orchestra
Richard Bonynge – conductor

Toronto, Canada 1985


On May 22, 1984 Joan Sutherland gave her very first performance as Donizetti's Anna Bolena in Toronto. Two performances later, on May 28, the performance was televised with the premiere cast and quite a premiere cast it was: James Morris as Henry VIII, Judith Forst as Jane Seymour, Michael Myers as Percy and in the small role of Hervey, the as yet unknown Ben Heppner. Pirate videos have been floating around for years of this performance but what a treat it is to see this mint copy looking as if it were being telecast today! Sumptuous costumes and appropriately stern sets along with excellent camera work help the singers to bring their characters vividly to life. Even though Sutherland was definitely in her later years, there is plenty of voice left to cope with the many vocal as well as dramatic challenges of this role. It is also a great opportunity to see James Morris as Henry -- a role he rarely performed and never recorded. The role offers no vocal difficulties that Morris cannot master and he is visually the antithesis of the overweight letcher we expect Henry VIII to be. Richard Bonynge conducts with sensitivity and style, bringing a "rightness" to this performance which many modern day bel canto performances rarely deliver. As with VAI's Norma -- subtitles are permanent and not optional but this is a small drawback which can be easily overlooked and indeed a plus for those who are hearing this opera for the first time. This DVD comes highly recommended not only as an aural but a visual treat as well. Many thanks to VAI for releasing its recent DVD's (Great Opera Stars on the Bell Telephone Hour and NORMA) -- keep them coming! --- Scott Holmes,

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Sun, 12 Aug 2012 19:29:03 +0000
Gaetano Donizetti - Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal (2007) Gaetano Donizetti - Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal (2007)

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Disc: 1
1. Act 1. Prélude
2. Act 1. Introduction. Nautonniers, mettez à la voile!
3. Act 1. Introduction. Ainsi nous l'emportons
4. Act 1. Air. Encore ce soldat, qui me poursuit
5. Act 1. Air. Soldat, j'ai rêvé la victoire
6. Act 1. March funèbre et Final. Regarde!
7. Act 1. March funèbre et Final. Quelle est-elle?
8. Act 1. March funèbre et Final. O mon Dieu, sur la terre play
9. Act 1. March funèbre et Final. Entendez-vous le trompette
10. Act 1. March funèbre et Final. Qui, le ciel m'enflamme et m'inspire!
11. Act 1. March funèbre et Final. Entendez-vous le trompette
12. Act 2. Choeur. Les délices de nos campagnes
13. Act 2. Romance. Que faite? Où cachet ma tristesse?
14. Act 2. Après la Romance. Eh quoi? Ton front toujours voile
15. Act 2. Ballet Music. Pas de Trois
16. Act 2. Ballet Music. Pas de deux
17. Act 2. Ballet Music. Danse final

Disc: 2
1. Act 2. Final. Eh quoi! des danses et des fêtes!
2. Act 2. Final. Une épée!... une épée!...
3. Act 2. Final. Victoire! victoire! victoire! play
4. Act 2. Final. Il est tombé!... Parmi ces cadavres
5. Act 2. Final. Grand Dieu!... sa misère est si grande
6. Act 2. Final. Vouloir sauver mes jours
7. Act 2. Final. Courage!... ô mon roi! courage!
8. Act 2. Final. Du sang! du sang!...
9. Act 2. Final. Eh bien donc!...
10. Act 2. Final. Seul sur la terre
11. Act 3. Récitatif et Duo. Pour éteindre une guerre aux deux
12. Act 3. Récitatif et Romance. Sur le sable d'Afrique
13. Act 3. Récitatif et Romance. Qui vive!...
14. Act 3. Final. C'est un soldat qui revient
15. Act 3. Final. Requiem
16. Act 3. Final. D'un monarque imprudent oublions
17. Act 3. Final. Misérable qui arrive

Disc: 3
1. Act 4. Choeur et Final. O voûtes souterraines!
2. Act 4. Choeur et Final. Toi qui, par un mensonge impie
3. Act 4. Choeur et Final. Grand Dieu!
4. Act 4. Choeur et Final. D'espoir, et de terreur
5. Act 4. Choeur et Final. Arrête...
6. Act 4. Choeur et Final. Va, parjure! épouse impie
7. Act 4. Choeur et Final. Ah! Zayda! play
8. Act 5. Duo. Ainsi les Espagnols s'avancent?
9. Act 5. Duo. Tes jours et ceux de ton complice
10. Act 5. Duo. La mort! Ce mot naguère
11. Act 5. Duo. Zayda!
12. Act 5. Duo. Son âme noble et fière
13. Act 5. Duo. Entends-tu, Zayda
14. Act 5. Barcarolle. O matelots, ô matelots...
15. Act 5. Trio. Camoëns!
16. Act 5. Final. A moitié du chemin ces remparts

Zayda, a moorish girl - Vesselina Kasarova
Dom Sébastien, king of Portugal - Giuseppe Filianoti
Dom Juam de Sylva, Grand Inquisitor - Alastair Miles
Abayaldos, a chieftain - Simon Keenlyside
Camoëns, a poet - Carmelo Corrado Caruso
Dom Henrique - Robert Gleadow
Dom Antonio/Fist Inquisitor - John Upperton
Second Inquisitor - Lee Hickenbottom
Ben-Sélim - Andrew Slater
Dom Luis - Martyn Hill
Soldier - Nigel Cliffe
Third Inquisitor - John Bernays

The Royal Opera Chorus
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Mark Elder
Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden


A professional recording of this opera has been missing from the catalogue for altogether too long. Thanks be to Opera Rara for yet another noble effort! The presentation is up to the high standard that they have set for themselves, including a lavishly illustrated, multi-language libretto with a fascinating essay by Jeremy Commons. The score ranks with Donizetti's best, naturally nearer to "La favorite" than to "Lucia." There are melodies galore and plenty of musical place settings, be it Iberia or Morocco. The complete ballet music is included. I followed the recording with the Ricordi Critical Edition of the vocal score and can testify to the performance's completeness. Conductor Mark Elder draws an impassioned performance from the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Of the principals, honours go to Giuseppe Filianotti in the title role for his dramatic conviction and clear, ringing tone; and to Simon Keenlyside as the beautifully sung, but menacing, villain. Alastair Miles plays the other villain equally well. As the heroine, Vesselina Kasarova offers plenty of passion in a language that sounds only vaguely like French. I understand that Carmelo Corrado Caruso was a last minute replacement who left me wondering if it was really that difficult to find someone to step in for a concert performance. His sense of pitch is so imprecise that his melodies come accross only in the orchestral accompaniment. It really is too bad as this is the only blight on this recording. However, this should not dissuade a purchase of this set, even if I have knocked off of star on his account. This is an enjoyable and welcome addition to my opera collection. ---S. Wells

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]]> (bluesever) Donizetti Gaetano Sun, 03 Apr 2011 18:47:44 +0000
Gaetano Donizetti - Don Pasquale (1995) Gaetano Donizetti - Don Pasquale (1995)

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CD 1
1. Sinfonia
2. Act I: Son nov'ore; di ritorno il Dottor
3. Act I: Bella siccome un angelo
4. Act I: Son rinato. Or si parli al nipotino
5. Act I: Prender moglie?
6. Act I: Due parole ancor di volo
7. Act I: Quel guardo il cavaliere
8. Act I: So anch'io la virtù magica
9. Act I: E il Dottor non si vede!
10. Act I: Pronta io son; pur ch'io non manchi
11. Act I: Vado, corro al gran cimento
12. Act II: Povero Ernesto! Dalla zio cacciato
13. Act II: Cercherò lontana terra
14. Act II: Quando avrete introdotto

CD 2
1. Act II: Non abbiate paura, è Don Pasquale
2. Act II: Fra da una parte eccetera
3. Act II: Indietro, mascalzoni, indietro
4. Act II: Un uom qual voi decrepito
5. Act II: Riunita immatinente la servitù
6. Act III: I diamanti, presto, presto
7. Act III: Signorina, in tanta fretta
8. Act III: Parto adunque...
9. Act III: Che interminabile andirivieni!
10. Act III: Questa repentina chaiamata
11. Act III: Cheti cheti immantinente
12. Act III: (Aspetta, aspetta, cara sposina)
13. Act III: Com' è gentil la notte a mezzo april!
14. Act III: Tornami a dir che m'ami
15. Act III: Eccoli: attenti ben
16. Act III: Tutto dimentico, siate felici

Don Pasquale: Wladimiro Ganzarolli
Norina: Ileana Cotrubas
Ernesto: Alfredo Kraus
Dottor Malatesta: Vicente Sardinero
Un notaro: Richard Sutliff

Orchestra and Chorus Lyric Opera of Chicago
Bruno Bartoletti - conductor
Rec. live at the Lyric Opera Chicago 2 Nov. 1974


Don Pasquale is one of the great masterpieces of Italian comic opera, ranking with Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia and Verdi's Falstaff. The premiere took place at the Théâtre Italien in Paris, on January 3, 1843. Later that spring it appeared first at the Teatro alla Scala of Milan, then at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna, and finally at Her Majesty's Theater in London. Although Donizetti was reputed to have finished this, his 64th opera, in a mere two weeks, it was hugely successful at each of these venues and gained rapid recognition throughout Europe. It was first heard in New York City in 1846 and has enjoyed unflagging popularity worldwide ever since.

The charming libretto, which revolves around the elderly Don Pasquale's ill-fated foray into marriage with a young girl, is by Giovanni Ruffini, but is more properly considered a collaborative effort between him and the composer. Ruffini (who narrowly avoided death by escaping from an Italian prison, where he was to be put to death for "revolutionary" activities), wrote the original libretto for Donizetti in Paris, basing his story on Angelo Anelli's earlier libretto for Stefano Pavesi's opera, Ser Mercantonio. However, Donizetti (who often wrote his own comic libretti) made such substantial changes to the text during composition that Ruffini refused to sign his name to the finished product. As a result, the authorship of the libretto was for some years in question.

The score to Don Pasquale is often described as Mozartean, and while its affect is clearly of the nineteenth, rather than eighteenth, century, it does recall the earlier master's ability to create vivid characterizations within a taut musical framework. Donizetti also succeeds in humanizing his subjects without ever sacrificing a light-hearted spirit of comedy. Norina is an especially gratifying character, both a strong-willed comic heroine and a sympathetic lover. She is full of intelligent wit, humor, tender sensibilities, and charm. The character of Don Pasquale, the rich bachelor determined to sire his own heirs at the age of 70, offers rich food for comedy without ever sacrificing his overriding sympathy. In each case, characters' emotions are skillfully delineated by musical style and texture: dramatic declamation, patter music, expressive roulades, and tender lyricism blend seamlessly.

The second act is rightfully considered one of Donizetti's finest achievements. Still following the traditional divisions of number opera, it proceeds with such natural pacing and dramatic progression that it seems to form one through-composed gesture. It begins as a trio, as Norina and Doctor Malatesta arrive at Don Pasquale's house. Patter dialogue between the two men contrasts with the nervous melodic outpourings of Norina, who sings first in staccato notes, then in dotted rhythms, and finally in irrepressible roulades. When Ernesto enters, he is given heroic declamatory vocal lines. The conclusion of the resulting quartet is delightfully various and complex, with each character maintaining his or her particular musical identity while contributing to overall effect.

Other memorable moments from Don Pasquale include the scheming Dr. Malatesta's aria, "Bella siccome un angelo," which has become a lyrical centerpiece of the baritone repertory, Don Pasquale's delightful "Un foco insolito," and Norina's cavatina, "Quel guardo, il cavaliere...So anch'io la virtù magica." Throughout the score, Donizetti succeeds in matching the wit and humor of the score with musical invention. ---Rovi

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