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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Un giorno di regno – melodramma giocoso in due atti (1840)
Cavaliere de Belfiore – Domenico Trimarchi (baritone); Il Barone di Kelbar – Giuseppe Taddei (bass); La Marchesa del Poggio – Margherita Rinaldi (soprano); Giulietta di Kelbar -  Elena Zilio (mezzo); Edoardo di Sanval – Vittorio Terranova (tenor); Gasparo Antonio La Rocca – Enrico Fissore (bass); Il Conte di Ivrea – Torna Popescu (tenor); Delmonte – Alfred Scherpfhauer (tenor)
Wiener Symphoniker, Wiener Staatsopernchor/Piero Bellugi
rec. live, Theater am Kornmarkt, Bregenz, 19 July 1974
Macbeth (1847/1865) – extracts
Girono non vidi mai sì fiero e bello! – Pro Macbetto! Il tuo signore – Due vaticini compiuti or sono – Nel dì della vittoria io le incontrai – Vieni! T’affretta! – Al cader della sera il Re qui guinge – Or tutti sorgete – Oh donna mia! – Sappia la sposa mia – Fatal mia donna! – Allor questa voce m’intesi nel petto – Di destarlo per tempo il Re m’impose – O gran Dio, che ne’cuori penetri – Perché mi sfuggi – Banco, l’eternita t’apre il suo regno … La luce langue
Macbeth – Renato Bruson (baritone); Banco – Simon Estes (bass); Lady Macbeth – Elizabeth Connell (soprano); Dama di Lady Macbeth – Darlene Davis (mezzo); Macduff – Luis Lima (tenor); Malcolm – Henri Groswin (tenor); Servo di Macbeth – Leonard Eagleson (bass)

Westminster College Choir; Philadelphia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
rec. live, October 1983, Academy of Music, Philadelphia
No texts included.
GALA GL100793 [79:25 + 78:52]
 

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Un giorno di regno
was Verdi’s second opera, a setting of a dated libretto by Felice Romani (probably revised by Temistocle Solera), and set as long ago as 1818 by the Bohemian Adalbert Gyrowetz. This in turn was based on the play La Faux Stanislaus by Alexandre Vincent Pineu-Duval. The opera had an unhappy genesis and an unhappy reception. It was composed in haste, between June and September of 1840. Worse than mere haste, Verdi had barely begun composition of the opera when his wife Margherita fell seriously ill; she died in July. The Verdi finances, too, were difficult – Margherita had recently had to pawn her jewellery (unknown to Verdi) to pay the rent. Given his wife’s illness and death, Verdi sought, unsuccessfully, to escape from his contract with La Scala. Scarcely the ideal circumstances, one might have thought, in which to write an opera buffa. When the work was finished, the first performance (Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 5 September 1840) was a disaster and it was removed from the stage after one night. Looking back in 1879, Verdi himself observed that “Certainly the music was partly to blame, but so too were the performers”. One suspects that a larger share of the blame should fall on the performers than on the composer. One reason for thinking that is that when revived in Venice in 1845 and Naples in 1859 – as Il finto Stanislaus, the title originally employed by Gyrowetz – the work met with a much more favourable reception. Another is the evidence of one’s own ears - I have never been lucky enough to see a production - when listening to a recording such as this performance from the Bregenz Festival or to the studio recording by Norman, Carreras, Cossotto et al, conducted by Lamberto Gardelli on Philips Classic Opera 4756772. 

Un giorno di regno is not, the greatest or most mature of Verdi – but to judge it by those standards is to miss the point – it would be about as sensible as complaining that The Two Gentlemen of Verona isn’t as good as The Tempest. For anyone wanting to try to understand Verdi’s development Un giorno di regno is necessary listening; for anyone who enjoys the range of Italian opera it is recommended listening. With a fair admixture of Rossinian influence there is plenty of evidence that Verdi had paid proper attention to Bellini and to Donizetti too. The Act One duet between Belfiore and Edorado, for example, is clearly founded on ‘Venti scudi’ from L’elisir d’amore. The work offers, in some parts, a kind of ‘lost’ bel canto opera; in other parts an early adumbration of idioms that were to become recognisably Verdian.

 

Even leaving aside its fascinating place in Verdi’s development – and, therefore, in the history of Italian opera - Un giorno di regno is simply enjoyable listening, provided that one doesn’t ask too much of it. The duets between Kelbar and La Rocca – notably ‘Diletto genero’ in Act I – are delightful set-pieces. Edoardo has some very decent arias, as does the Marchesa. Some of the vocal ensembles are particularly fine, not least the sextet ‘Cara giulia, alfin ti vedo’.

 

This lively, engaged performance – audience noise is minimal and the on-stage noises are more atmospheric than intrusive – has an energy and vitality which the Gardelli studio performance, for all the excellence of much of its singing (notably that of Carreras) can’t quite match. Margherita Rinaldi has some impressive top notes and handles the coloratura well; the usually marvellous Giuseppe Taddei is, well, marvellous; Domenicho Trimarchi and Enrico Fissore are masters of their buffo craft. Vittorio Terranova – who was, a fine Donizetti tenor and has later counted José Cura amongst his students – is a very attractive Edoardo, singing the role with some beautifully unaffected lyricism; Elena Zilio sings with appropriate verve and spirit. In short, no-one lets the side down. Piero Bellugi conducts with energy and understanding. The recorded sound is entirely acceptable. This set from Gala offers an economical and, more importantly, a well-performed opportunity to hear one of Verdi’s least-often heard works. The only drawback is the absence of any kind of libretto, and, indeed, of a detailed plot-summary.

 

As a bonus we are given extracts from a concert performance of Macbeth, conducted by Muti and recorded in Philadelphia in 1983. It’s decent enough and one would not have regretted the expense of a ticket if present, I suspect. But it isn’t a reading to which most Verdians are likely to return very frequently. Only Renato Bruson’s interpretation of the title role really stands out. The rest of the cast don’t seem fully within their roles, as if they had, indeed, learned them for a one-off concert performance or, at any rate, had not performed them in the theatre for some time. Pleasant enough but unmemorable. It is the recording of Un giorno di regno that offers the best reason for buying this set.

 

Glyn Pursglove

 


 




 


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