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Duetto: Great Opera Duets and to be Experienced as a Protagonist
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

La Traviata, ‘Parigi, o cara’. (lyric tenor and coloratura or flexible lyric soprano); ‘Libiamo ne’ lieti calici’
Il Trovatore, ‘Ai nostri monti’. (spinto tenor and dramatic mezzo)
Don Carlo, ‘Dio che nell’alma infondere’. (lyric tenor and true baritone)
Aida, ‘O terra addio’. (Spinto tenor and lyrico spinto soprano)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Don Giovanni, ‘La ci darem la mano’. (light soprano and either a baritone or bass with a good top)
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1868)

Don Pasquale, ‘Tornami a dir che m’ami’. (light lyric tenor and light flexible soprano)
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

La Boheme, ‘O soave fanciulla’. (lyric tenor and lyric soprano)
Orchestra and Chorus ‘Compagnia D’Opera Italiana’/Antonella Gotto
Sung by Linda Campanella, (sop); Antonia Cifrone, (sop); Marcella Polidori, (sop); Sarah M’Punga, (mezzo) Silvano Santagata, (ten); Stefano Secco, (ten); Albetro Gazale, (baritone); Matteo Peirone, (basso brillante)
Recorded June-November 1997. No venue indicated
CANTOLOPERA 95044 and 95054 [55.05 + 56.03]
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This is the last review of discs from the Cantolopera series of CDs with their sub-title of ‘to be Experienced as a Protagonist’. In my introduction to each of the reviews of the discs covering the five vocal registers: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and bass I set out the background, principal uses and limitations of these unique discs. However, first and foremost, any student or potential singer of opera arias will need to recognise where their own voice lies within the vocal register and which roles in opera might be suitable for them. With that in mind I made appropriate suggestions relative to each vocal register and the repertoire on the Cantolopera discs and also commented on how the exemplar singers met the ideal.

Whilst singers might start giving individual recitals, or being part of a programme, the issue of performing duets, scenes etc will arise. These complementary discs provide an ideal opportunity to make the next step from solo arias. Each disc has the same programme for tracks 1 to 8, and I have denoted for each item the vocal registers with indications as to weight of voice required. It is in the second part of the CDs that the differences between them arise and must be noted and understood.

Tracks 9-14 and 16 of 95044 have the female voices but not the male voice except for track 15 ‘Dio che nell’alma infondere’ the duet between Don Carlo (ten) and Rodrigo (bar) where the tenor part is omitted. I should also note that this duet is in shortened form of 2:24 and without interjections from chorus and ‘Friar’. By comparison, in the extract from the final scene of Aida, ‘O terra addio’ (tr. 16) the concluding intonations of Amneris and the chorus praying for peace on those entombed are included. On disc 95054 the reverse of the foregoing is the case with the tenor, or baritone in the ‘Don Carlo’, omitted.

The burden of the exemplar performances rests on the lyric tenor Stefano Secco and the light flexible soprano of Linda Campanella who share the ‘Traviata’ (trs. 1, 3, 9, 11) and ‘Don Pasquale’ (trs. 5, 13) duets. She sings Zerlina to the bass-baritone Matteo Peirone as Don Giovanni (trs. 4 and 12). Secco also sings the eponymous Don Carlo to the firm baritone of Albetro Gazale as Rodrigo (trs. 7 and 15) and Rodolfo to the Mimi of lyric soprano Marcella Polidori (trs 2 and 10). The heavier tenor roles of Manrico in ‘Il Trovatore’ (trs. 2 and 10) and Radames from ‘Aida’(trs. 8 and 16) are sung by Silvano Santagata, with more elegant phrasing and smoother tone than some of his efforts on the discs devoted to the tenor voice.

The sound on the second half of the discs is variable with echo or added reverberation intrusive. This may be a consequence of dubbing on a voice and is particularly evident in the tenor contribution to the duet from ‘Don Carlo’ on 95054. Otherwise the engineers have brought off what must have been an unusual challenge very well. Listen to tracks 3 and 11 ‘Libiamo ne’ lieti calici’ from ‘La Traviata’, the love duet from ‘La Boheme’ (trs. 6 and 14) and ‘La ci darem la mano’ from ‘Don Giovanni’ (trs. 4 and 12), the first number of each pair of tracks being of the duet itself.

These discs can be recommended to any singer wishing to extend their repertoire, practising as much as they like before the more difficult task of realising the music with a live partner.

Robert J Farr


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