one has to put up with inadequate documentation and inferior
recording balances just to hear a work that is insufficiently
represented in the catalogues and which the chances of hearing
live are minimal. Such is the case here, a live performance
from Trieste where one has to endure audience noise - especially
grating in the quiet opening of the work - and an ultra-close
trumpet in the opening chorus. Bear in mind that there is an
Opera Rara rival (ORC5, and rather more pricey), but this version
does seem to be deleted at present.
Serra is known for her vocal acrobatics; her name has been mentioned
in the same breath at Joan Sutherland’s. She is superb from
the off. Track 4 of disc 1 (‘Bellàh, capretta mata’) shows her
at her best. She has to negotiate long cantabile lines - which
she does excellently, even if the recording balance distances
her from time to time - and virtuoso passages in which she has
to match a nimble flautist … and she does. Her famous second
act ‘Shadow Song’ - here at the beginning of the second disc
- positively sparkles; small wonder it brings the house down.
Again, the voice/flute interaction is a thing of wonder. If
there is one vocal reason to obtain this set, it is Serra.
other main characters are more than adequate. Max Cosotti is
an ardent Corentino and Angelo Romero is an extremely musical
Hoël. Romero’s talents are fully showcased in the last act.
bear in mind that the story of Dinorah is just plain silly.
Dinorah and her intended, Hoël’s, house is destroyed by inclement
weather. Hoël finds a way to make some money to recoup his losses
- involving a wizard’s treasure and a light smattering of subterfuge
- but does not tell Dinorah his plans, so she thinks herself
abandoned. The subterfuge involves Corentin (Corentino in the
Italian), whose major drawback is his cowardice.
scoring and his evocations of scene are constant sources of
delight. There is a real feeling of the supernatural from the
scoring of Act 2, and his use of hunting imagery is a model
of clarity. The orchestra is not the greatest, but it throws
itself into the general gist of things with élan. Poduc conducts
with a keen ear for dramatic direction and follows his soloists
mentioned above, documentation is lacking, to say the least.
A track listing (Italian-only) and a cast list is all we get.
Listening blind, one might be forgiven for taking the recording
as being a lot older than it actually is – there is no indication
as to the actual circumstances of recording, alas. Still, worth
hearing if you are curious as to what goes on in ‘the rest’
of this opera outside the Shadow Song.