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Fernando Corena
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Le Nozze di Figaro; Se vuol ballare, Signor Contino [2.31]
Le Nozze di Figaro; La vendetta, oh, la vendetta [3.20]
Le Nozze di Figaro; Non più andrai [3.42]
Le Nozze di Figaro; Aprite un po’ quel’occhi [4.09]
Don Giovanni; Madamina, il catalogo é questo [5.59]
Don Giovanni; Ah! Pieta [1.47]
Così fan tutte; Donne miei [3.01]
Die Zauberflöte; In diesen heil’gen Hallen [4.24]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

Il Barbiere di Siviglia; A un Dottor della mia sorte [4.06]
La Gazza ladra; Il mio piano e preparato [4.26]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

L’Elisir d’amore; Udite, udite, o rustici [5.51]
Don Pasquale; Ah! Un foco insolito [2.14]
Don Pasquale; Cheti, cheti, immantinente with Afro Poli [6.42]
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)

La Gioconda; Si! Morir ella de’! [4.54]
La Gioconda; Qui chiamata with Miriam Pirazzini [7.11]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

La Forza del Destino; Toh!, toh! [3.41]
La Forza del Destino; Che? Siete all’osteria? With Giuseppe Modesti
Fernando Corena (bass)
With L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Peter Maag
Orchestra/Alberto Erede
The Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome/Alberto Erede
The Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Armando la Rosa Parodi
Recorded 1951-52
PREISER 89597 [76.49]

Corena endured several false starts in his career until his breakthrough in the early 1950s. Thought of as a prototypical Italian buffo he was in fact nothing of the sort. For a start he was born in Geneva in 1916 and though his mother was Italian his father was Turkish. Vittorio Gui suggested he further his studies and so Corena went to Milan but the war interrupted the little progress he’d made and it wasn’t until success in Verona in 1948 that he became noticed, not least by La Scala. Competition was tough – Siepi and Christoff being the two most formidable – and Corena began to specialise in the more modern repertoire, Menotti, Petrassi and Prokofiev, but eventually he burgeoned onto the international stage. His Edinburgh, Glyndebourne, and Salzburg performances were greatly admired, to say nothing of his twenty-six uninterrupted seasons at the Met.

Corena’s performances are not necessarily rare but Preiser have collated some Decca and Urania discs from 1951-53 to exhibit him in a fair chunk of his most notable roles. Decca LX3095 grouped together his Mozart and they make very pleasing, sympathetic listening. Forward sibilants are noticeable in Se vuol ballare and also theatrically that he doesn’t do too much. His buffo instincts were always tidily reined in – doubtless a conscious decision on stage but one that comes across equally strongly on disc. Non più andrai is neatly characterised – attractive and warm and whilst not stellar an indication of his well-focused musical instincts. Similarly Madamina, one of two examples of his way in Don Giovanni, is not at all rushed and there’s not too much buffo business but Corena shades his tonal reserves with commendable wit and intelligence. He has an attractive spring – and enough personality – for Donne miei from Così and his Magic Flute has the requisite balance of simplicity and dignity. These Mozart extracts reveal an attractive, unsensational but greatly attractive and likeable musician.

Turning to his Italian repertoire we find a treasurable example of his Barber of Seville from 1951. Collectors will know that he recorded the opera complete in 1959 with Leinsdorf conducting and fellow cast members including Peters, Merrill and Tozzi, though it was certainly not a universally admired set. His Donizetti is colourful and his Don Pasquale an advance souvenir of the complete set he was to record with Kertesz over a decade later (here he makes a good team with Afro Poli). The Forza del destino actually derives from the complete Urania album recorded in 1952 in which he partnered Modesti, Guerrini, Pirazzini, Campora and Colzani under the baton of Armando la Rosa Parodi.

The Deccas and Urania LPs used were clearly in fine condition and they’ve been well transferred, along with some good biographical information. Mozart and the Italians represents a fair distribution of Corena’s mature operatic career and this disc shows why he was in such consistent demand.

Jonathan Woolf



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