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Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792
La Gazzetta (1816) [129.41]
Don Pomponio Storione – Marco Christarella Orestano (baritone)
Lisetta – Judith Gauthier (soprano)
Filippo – Giulio Mastrototaro (baritone)
Don Anselmo – Vincenzo Burzzaniti (bass)
Doralice – Rossella Bevacqua (soprano)
Alberto – Michael Spyres (tenor)
Madama La Rose – Maria Soulis (mezzo)
Monsu Traversen – Filippo Polinelli (baritone)
Tommasino – Emmanuele Capissi (spoken)
Ugo Mahieux (harpsichord continuo)
San Pietro a Majella Chorus, Naples
Czech Chamber Soloists, Brno/Christopher Franklin
rec. live, Kurhaus, Bad Wildbad, Germany, 14, 19-20 July 2007
NAXOS 8.660277-78 [69.48 + 59.53]
In an age when there is a strong urge to investigate all corners
of Rossini’s repertoire, no matter how remote, the neglect of
his comic opera La Gazzetta is somewhat puzzling. It
was written in 1816, coming between Il Barbiere di Siviglia
and La Cenerentola. These two latter were written
for Rome; La Gazzetta was written for Teatro de’ Fiorentini,
Naples, where Rossini was contracted to produce serious operas
for the San Carlo. Not only was La Gazzetta comic, but
it had a leading role written in Neapolitan dialect.
It was based on Goldoni’s comedy, Il matrimonio per concorso,
a play which had already been given the operatic treatment twice
before. So strong was the Goldoni link that contemporary Neapolitans
persisted in calling Rossini’s opera Il matromonio per concorso.
The opera was popular in Naples, but critics found the libretto
vulgar and the music weak. It doesn’t help that the music textual
history is complex. Significant chunks of the end of Act 1 are
missing from the manuscript; possibly because Rossini removed
the music as he re-used it in La Cenerentola. Philip
Gossett, in his critical edition, reconstituted one missing
scene and this recording includes the remaining scenes reconstructed
by Stefano Piana, using material from La Cenerentola.
The results are more dramaturgically consistent.
In terms of plot, there is nothing in the libretto which might
seem to make the piece problematic. We cannot do better than
quote Philip Gossett himself describing the plot:-
In this comedy, two Italian merchants (Pandolfo and Anselmo),
during the course of a visit to Paris, seek to marry off their
daughters (Lisetta and Doralice) in order to increase their
wealth or improve their social status. The colorful and crooked
Pandolfo tries the expedient of advertising his daughter’s availability
in the local newspaper (as an “Avviso al pubblico”), while the
more traditional Anselmo seeks to arrange an advantageous match
privately. Needless to say, the young women themselves soon
fall in love with young men of their own choosing (Filippo,
an Italian innkeeper, and Roberto, another Italian merchant).
After a series of delightful comic situations, disguises, and
unexpected events, love triumphs and the fathers must be reconciled
to the choices of their daughters. (Philip Gossett)
More difficult perhaps is the way Rossini re-used material.
He was a great re-worker of material, but took care to make
sure that he only re-cycled in operas written for different
venues. As La Gazzetta was the first (and only) opera
he wrote for the Teatro de’ Fiorentini, he was free to borrow
at will. Some items are lifted wholesale with new words fitted,
from Il Turco in Italia and La pietro del paragone,
neither of which had been performed in Naples. But the majority
of material is re-worked for the new situation, much as Rossini
would re-work the material for Elisabetta’s entrance in Elisabetta
Regina d’Inghilterra (written for Naples in 1815), for Rosina’s
first aria, Una voca poco fa in Il Barbiere di Siviglia
(written for Rome in 1816). Modern commentators still have
something of a problem with composers’ re-use of material, no
matter how creative, and this has had something of an effect
on the reputation of La Gazzetta.
It is tricky when listening to this recording to assess how
La Gazzetta would come off in the theatre. It is still
so unfamiliar. As with Rossini’s other comedies, there is a
lot of recitative, and comic business. Though Naxos have provided
the Italian libretto in pdf form on their web-site, there is
no English translation and the plot summary is by no means enough
to assess comic viability.
The recording was made live at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival.
Naxos have issued a number of these recordings and their quality
can be a little variable; usually creditable but not always
library-shelf material. Here an excellent cast has been assembled
and they give a performance of great élan with many musical
virtues, making the CDs a highly enjoyable experience.
Marco Cristarella Orestano is impressive as Don Pomponio Storione,
with a fine rich baritone and a nice way with Rossini’s music.
Not being familiar with Neapolitan, I have no way of knowing
whether his delivery of the text is idiomatic or not. In the
play, the roles of Pomponio and Anselmo are reasonably balanced,
but Rossini emphasises the comic ridiculousness of Pomponio
in the tradition of his many other richly comic baritone roles.
Orestano rises to the challenge.
Judith Gauthier has an attractive lyric voice as his daughter
Lisetta. As with many of his other operas, Rossini is sparing
with his arias, so that Lisetta only gets one plus duets with
Filippo and Pomponio; no character gets two arias; duets, trios
and ensembles are in the majority. Gauthier makes her mark with
the care and attention that she gives to Rossini’s vocal line;
she is altogether a delight. As her love interest Filippo, Giulio
Mastrototaro has a positive tour-de-force of an aria towards
the end of Act 2 and Mastrototaro makes the most of this.
To these three principals must be added a fourth, the Alberto
of Michael Spyres. Alberto is by no means a principal role,
though he does get an aria, but the quality of Spyres’ tenor
is such that you listen to him whenever he sings.
With these four artists we have a very fine, balanced group
of Rossini singers at their peak. Any performance would be proud
to have them and they make this recording one to listen out
The remaining cast are creditable rather than wonderful, but
contribute to the strong ensemble feel. Rossella Bevacqua’s
Doralice is inclined to smudge her passage-work in her runs,
but she is characterful in the recitative. Maria Soulis as Madama
La Rose also smudges her runs and sings with a fruity, but rather
unfocused mezzo-soprano. Vincenzo Bruzzaniti’s Don Anselmo rather
tends to get lost in the mêlée.
Christopher Franklin and the Czech Chamber Soloists, Brno, deliver
a crisply attractive account. Franklin keeps things bowling
long as befits this sort of operatic farce.
This is a charmingly effective recording; one which doesn’t
need excuses made for it. If someone picks this up, not knowing
Rossini’s comic operas, then they certainly won’t wonder what
all the fuss is about; in fact they might well be entranced.
see also review by Robert