Bellissimo - Italian Opera
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868)
Demetrio e Polibio
1. Questo cor ti giura amore (Lisinga, Siveno)[5:18]
Christine Weidinger (soprano - Lisingo), Sara Mingardo (mezzo - Siveno), Graz Symphony Orchestra/Massimiliano Carraro
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 – 1848)
Pia de’ Tolomei
2. Fra queste braccia (Pia, Rodrigo) [4:23]
3. Sposo, ah tranca ogni dimora! (Pia) [5:26]
4. Ah! di Pia che muore (Pia) [5:14]
Patrizia Ciofi (soprano – Pia), Laura Polverelli (mezzo – Rodrigo), Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia/Paola Arrivabeni
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 – 1835)
I Capuleti e i Montecchi
5. Oh quante volte, oh quante (Giulietta) [10:07]
Patrizia Ciofi (soprano – Giulietta), Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia/Luciano Acocella
Francesco CILEA (1866 – 1950)
Adriana Lecouvreur
6. La dolcissima effige (Maurizio) [2:09]
7. Che? Tu tremi ... (Maurizio, Adriana) [9:21]
Marcelo Alvarez (tenor – Maurizio), Micaela Carosi (soprano – Adriana), Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Torino/Renato Palumbo
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
8. Liberamente or piangi (Odabella) [6:21]
9. Qual suon di passi! (Odabella, Foresto) [8:00]
10. Mentre gonfiarsi l’anima (Attila) [7:16]
Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass – Attila), Dimitra Theodossiou (soprano – Odabella), Carlo Ventre (tenor – Foresto), Orchestra of the Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi di Trieste/Donato Renzetti
11. Infelice! ... E tuo credevi (Silva) [5:16]
12. O sommo Carlo (Carlo, Silva, tutti) [4:08]
Marco Berti (tenor – Ernani), Susan Neves (soprano – Elvira), Carlo Guelfi (barotine – Don Carlo), Giacomo Prestia (bass – Don Ruy Gomez de Silva), Nicoletta Zanini (soprano – Giovanna), Samuele Simoncini (tenor – Don Riccardo), Alessandro Svab (bass – Jago), Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Parma/Antonello Allemandi
rec. various locations 1992, 2000, 2005, 2009
no texts
DYNAMIC CDS 704 [73:00]

It’s clear from the catalogue in the booklet that Dynamic have recorded an enormous range of operas. Several of these I have reviewed during the last few years. Many of them are rarities and several of the composers are little represented elsewhere in the catalogues. Bottesini, Cagnoni, Da Capua, Galuppi, Jomelli, Leo, Marchetti, Mercadante, Mosca, Paisiello, Piccinni, Sacchini, Salieri, Sarro, Scarlatti and Spontini are by no means seen and heard every year; not even every decade. Of the household names we still find Dynamic featuring works that are off the beaten track. In other words Dynamic is a treasure trove for opera lovers with a taste for the little known. The quality of the works may vary. Not all the singing is world class and since these are invariably live recordings one has to accept odd balance and stage noise. Very often the quality is in every respect fully comparable to that achieved by the big labels. Today most of the traditional ‘majors’ have been overshadowed in quantity by Dynamic.
This sample disc is, I believe, a way to show those not yet convinced that the company delivers high-quality products. By and large it was a pleasure to listen through this collection. The composers’ names are all well known; not all the operas are.
Demetrio e Polibio for instance is very early Rossini, begun in 1806 when he was not yet fifteen. It wasn’t premiered until 18 May 1812. By then the composer had turned 20 and five of his operas had already been played. Even so, it was still almost a year before his real breakthrough: Tancredi in February 1813 and L’italiana in Algeri in May the same year. He shows his paces in Demetrio e Polibio. The melody is beautiful and the accompaniment is skilfully orchestrated. Both singers have good voices, that initially don’t blend too well - they get better.
Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei is a more mature work. The composer was 40 when he wrote it, the same year, incidentally, as Roberto Devereux (1837). In the duet the voices tend to shrillness. Both are quite vibrant, but Ciofi on her own is very attractive and her voice is a pliant instrument. In the aria Sposo, ah tronca ogni dimora! she sings beautifully and with feeling. The death scene is touching.
She is even better in the long aria from I Capuleti e i Montecchi where the solo horn player in the introduction and long recitative is excellent.
I reviewed the complete Adriana Lecouvreur not so long ago and was very enthusiastic about Marcelo Alvarez’s singing but had reservations about the others. Returning to some of the music now I was just as satisfied with Alvarez, glorious and lyrical, and found Carosi more to my liking this time. In her deeply felt identification with the dying Adriana she is at her very best.
There are more highlights to come in Verdi’s Attila. Dimitra Theodossiou’s Odabella is another highly attractive reading to add to an already long list of roles she has recorded successfully. She floats the high piano notes in the aria so beautifully. And her dramatic ability is amply demonstrated in the duet with Foresto. There Carlo Ventre is powerful – maybe forceful is a better word – but hardly subtle. By all means Attila is probably one of the least subtle of Verdi’s operas.
Attila himself is formidably sung by Furlanetto, larger than life perhaps, but that’s what the ruler of the Huns was. He has tremendous vocal resources, the voice is black, intense and impressively steady. I suspect people sitting in the first rows had to bend down to avoid being blown away by his fortissimos. He definitely out-sings both Raimondi and Nesterenko on the two studio recordings from the 1970s and 1980s: Philips and Hungaroton respectively, both conducted by Lamberto Gardelli.
In Ernani Giacomo Prestia’s Silva is on the whole an acceptable reading, but where Furlanetto is rock-steady over his whole range, Prestia has a disfiguring wobble on too many sustained notes. Still he gets more ovations from the Parma audience than the Trieste people bestow on Furlanetto. Carlo Guelfi, a reliable singer, is heard to good effect in O sommo Carlo.
This is, in sum, a collection that offers some extraordinary singing, but also some that is not quite up to the mark. For Alvarez, Theodossiou, and Furlanetto I’ll keep this disc close to my CD-player – and Ciofi is also worth an extra listen.
Göran Forsling

I’ll keep this disc close to my CD-player.