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Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
Dinorah (1859)
Luciana Serra (soprano) - Dinorah; Angelo Romero (baritone) - Hoël; Max Rene Cosotti (baritone) - Corentin; Francesco D’Artegna (bass) - Huntsman; Giuseppe Botta (singer) - Un Reaper; Rosanna Didone (mezzo) - Goatherd; Gloria Scalchi (singer) – Goatherd
Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Verdi di Trieste/Baldo Podic.
rec. Live, Teatro Verdi, Trieste, 8 February 1983. ADD
LIVING STAGE LS 1127 [79:10 + 79:38]


Sometimes 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.

Luciana 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. 

The 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.

Do 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.

Meyerbeer’s 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 well.

As 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.

Colin Clarke 



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