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The Great Interactive Opera Encyclopaedia Volume VII

Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)

Adriana Lecouvreur, ‘lo son L'umile’
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Die Zauberflöte, ‘In diesen heil’gen Hallen’
Georges Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Faust, ‘Le Veau d’or’
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

Guillaume Tell, ‘Resta immobile’
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Les Vêpres siciliennes’, ‘ O tu, Palermo, terra adorata’
La forza del destino, ‘La Vergine degli angeli’
La forza del destino, ‘Pace, pace mio Dio’
Macbeth, ‘Pietá rispeto, amore’
Nabucco, Dio di Guida!’
Nabucco, ‘Tu sul labbro dei veggenti’
Otello, ‘Ave Maria’
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)

Norma, ‘Casta Diva’
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1868)

Lucia di Lamermoor, ‘Tombi degli avi miei’
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Tosca, ‘Vissi d’arte’
Performed by ‘Compagnia d’Opera Italiana’. Cond. Antonello Gotto

Being an ‘elderly’ dog is, in the context of reviewing opera’ a mixed blessing. The plus is the fact that I draw on fifty years of listening to, and seeing opera; from the days of Cetra’s ‘Green Label’ LPs, when staged performances related to what the composer wrote rather than deconstructed (a.k.a. destroyed) producer interpretations, to the challenge of the current CD-ROM under review. The latter required me to learn quite a few new tricks! First I had to work out if my PC met the required spec for MacOS or Windows 95/98/2000 and which required a minimum of 16 MB RAM available for Cantalopera and 20 MB free space on the hard disc. These and other requirements are specified in more detail on the inside of the very basic accompanying leaflet (and at

Being a long time ‘empty nester’ and therefore not having any resident adolescent, or younger, experts to assist in getting loaded and started, had its moments of frustration/exasperation, but once on board, as it were, fascination was followed by addiction so that I now live in an opera lovers nirvana (but no Wagner on this disc) of an opera addict. I’ve given up bed as I work my way round the hours of this disc which contains: ‘a four tracks Digital Recording Studio’; ‘over three hours of Hi-Fi stereo music’; ‘100 pages of information and documents, librettos and scores’; ‘300 pictures, audio and video interviews, columns, a glossary;’

That brief summary gives only an introduction to the treasures present on each disc, not to mention the self-indulgences allowed for! For example, under the heading ‘ColuMns’ (sic) there are a number of sub headings as follows: ‘Good Singing’, which in this volume deals with the baritone voice. A spoken and visual narrative analyses the characteristics of the vocal register and relates that to named examples giving a critique of each. Thus the names of Battistini, Ruffo, Amato, Bechi, Gobbi, Cappuccilli, Bruson, and Zancanaro, amongst others are considered. I personally didn’t always agree with the comments but it was the exception when I didn’t. ‘Era’ on this volume dealt with Verdi related to the belcantoists that precede him and the verismo composers who followed. ‘Interviews’. Brief interviews included a music critic and two famous singers, the soprano Rosana Carteri and the baritone Rolando Panerai. ‘Opinions’. Opinions on seven famous singers such as Bergonzi, del Monaco is given with reference to their vocal characteristics, career and repertoire. ‘Vocality’. This heading denotes a great treasure trove. Each vocal register can be selected and heard, and if you have a microphone and your PC the hardware, then you can determine, with guidance and graphs, your personal vocal register; and don’t be arrogant and assume you already know!

The arias listed in the header are all there to be heard alone, together with the libretto and music and with the possibility for you to do the singing as the words and music score pass in front of you. This has nothing to do with ‘karaoke’ or singing in the bathroom, but has serious as well as fun possibilities.

For me another treasure was the glossary that goes from ‘Aria’ to ‘Zarzuela’ with definitions of each alongside as one clicks. These definitions are not trite either. Aria is divided into 14 sub-divisions such as agginata, buffa through bravura, to di portamento and more. There are biographies for listening, Callas, Ponselle and others. This one disc is a veritable treasure trove for the opera lover and it is only one of ten volumes, with the others covering different facets and voice types. Buy one of the series, if it appeals then get the rest and you will have an operatic diamond mine at your fingertips.

Robert J Farr

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