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Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
Marcella (1907)
Serena Daolio (soprano) - Marcella; Danilo Formaggia (tenor) - Giorgio; Pierluigi Dilengite (baritone) - Drasco; Natalizia Carone (mezzo) - Clara; Angelica Girardi (soprano) - Raimonda; Mara D’Antini (soprano) - Eliana; Maria Rosa Rondinelli (soprano) - Lea; Marcello Rosiello (baritone) - Vernier; Giovanni Coletta (baritone) - Barthélemy; Graziano De Pace (baritone) - Flament
Bratislava Chamber Choir; Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia/Manlio Benzi.
rec. Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy, 4-6 August 2007
Dolby 2.0, Dolby Surround 5.0. 16:9
NAXOS 2.110263 [66:51] 
Experience Classicsonline

This recording, which is the only one available, has been uncommonly thoroughly covered at MusicWeb International. About a year ago Robert Hugill and myself reviewed the CD issue and recently Colin Clarke gave a detailed analysis of the DVD version. Though opinions concerning details quite naturally differ we do agree upon the merits of the music and that the work is well worth the attention of opera-lovers - It’s unlikely that it will appear in an alternative recording.

Coming back to Marcella after almost a year only enhanced my admiration for the work. There are many catchy melodies and the treatment of the orchestra stands out as very professional and sensitive. Again the prelude to Episode Three emerged as one of the loveliest things not only in this but in the other operas by Giordano - Andrea Chenier and Fedora - that I know. It is also tautly constructed and the peripeteia in the middle of Episode Two is skilfully calculated. There, when Drasco reports on the terrible political situation in his and Giorgio’s native country, the music appropriately takes on a darker, more aggressive tone, and brings out the nationalist pathos of the two. The end of the opera is more doubtful: the music kind of ebbs away - or evaporates as Robert Hugill puts it - with Marcella lying on the floor, Giorgio hurrying out and the last thing we hear before the drama is over is the sounds of his footsteps.

Seeing the work staged no doubt adds one dimension to the appreciation and deepens the emotions. I totally agree with Colin Clarke that the filming is not very inventive but at least the depraved atmosphere of the restaurant in the first episode comes to life and we are moved by the deep emotions in the scenes with Marcella and Giorgio, who after all are the only characters that matter greatly.

Serena Daolio (Marcella) and Danilo Formaggia (Giorgio) are convincing actors though in close-up the gesticulation may sometimes seem somewhat exaggerated, at least from Ms Daolio. In the theatre this is easier to stomach. I found both singers well suited to their roles - maybe Serena Daolio looks a bit older than the supposed age of Marcella - and will no doubt want to return to this production in either of its incarnations for so much fine impassioned singing.

Göran Forsling

see also review by Colin Clarke



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