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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

The world premiere compact disc recording of this opera was issued on Dynamic CDS573 and reviewed on this site by Göran Forsling and Robert Hugill. In fact, MusicWeb International is quoted on the back cover of the present DVD, the audio/visual offering of the same event. Göran Forsling’s review includes a detailed plot synopsis and performance history of this short “Idillio moderno”. 

This performance was intended to celebrate the centenary of the work’s premiere. The score and parts of the work were destroyed during World War II, and the performing materials have been reconstructed from the composer’s manuscript. The story of love shattered when Marcella’s love, Giorgio, is revealed to be a Prince acting incognito – he is called back to right issues of state, and their life together is curtailed. Shades of Traviata can be detected - at least here she does not die at the end. The titles of the opera’s three “episodes” track the dramatic process: “Trovata” (found), “Amata” (loved) and “Abbandonata” (abandoned). There is a patch of the final episode - around 58 minutes in - that seems to swerve towards the musical world of Tosca

There is huge value here in being able to enjoy the staged version of the opera, as the chances of seeing this live are slim indeed. The actual standard of filming is not great, though. Much of the first episode is rather dark – as are the clothes of many characters. It occurs in a fashionable Parisian restaurant - bizarrely the booklet indicates this as “very early in the morning” – presumably it means past midnight. Camera angles and movement are not particularly satisfying either; the video director is Matteo Ricchetti. The second episode is set on a mostly bare stage with what appear to be photos of green hills in the background; the stage direction is “a terraced retreat with views over the countryside”. The director keeps the spotlight on Marcella between Episodes II and III. The setting remains constant, only even darker. 

The orchestra is of an acceptable standard; a good pit orchestra but no more. The festivities of the opera’s opening are conveyed but with a slight sense of strain. The entr’acte between Episodes II and III is at least tender. The singing is better than the orchestra’s contribution. The score is focused pretty relentlessly on the principal couple, sung here by Serena Daolio and Danilo Formaggia. Formaggia has a free voice that Robert Hugill likens to Bocelli’s. I see the parallel but would point out that Formaggia sounds more in tune than his more famous colleague. Daolio acts her part well, and sings affectingly for her aria, “Io solo al mondo” in the first episode. One also believes she is frightened as the crowd chases her in. Giorgio’s response to this aria is eloquent but it is evident that he is not quite in the same class as his heroine. Daolio’s rapture as, in the second episode, she recalls her love of Giorgio and “that night, three months ago”, is also eminently believable. The love duet here brings out the best in Formaggia, whose avowal that he will never abandon her is allotted a high level of poignancy. A pity Formaggia’s “Patria mia” towards the end of this episode is rather strained. He does well with his final episode aria, “Dolce notte misteriosa”, but soon thereafter the faults of the lower end of his range show through and, when Daolio enters, she once more eclipses him, particularly in the final moments of the opera. 

The baritone Pierluigi Dilengite, as Drasco, is a fine singer with focused voice. It is he who has to call Giorgio to duty, and he rises to the dramatic moment well. 

Manlio Benzi is a sensitive conductor throughout although no-one is going to pretend that the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia is the international class its own title would seem to imply. 

Given the paucity of competition, this would appear to be a recommendation despite my reservations. The DVD offers no extras of any sort. Interestingly, as a brief appendix, one could point to the recording of Giuseppe Anselmi conducted by the composer of “O mia Marcella” and “O santa liberta” on Pearl GEMMCD9227.

Colin Clarke


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