The Sicilian soprano Lucia Aliberti is not only one of the most successful
opera singers of her generation but she is also a composer and plays
several instruments. She has specialised in the operas of Rossini,
Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. Her Verdi roles include Luisa Miller,
Gilda in Rigoletto, Violetta in La traviata and Maria
in Simon Boccanegra. In the present programme she concentrates
mostly on early Verdi operas. Many of these arias are relative rarities
on disc and in the concert hall.
Mercé, dilette amiche from I vespri Siciliani
is one of the better known examples - and not exactly ‘early
Verdi’- but I don’t grumble when the singing is so assured.
Some doubtful intonation apart this is splendid music-making. Her
technique is beyond reproach and the tone is beautiful. With I
masnadieri, based on an early drama by Schiller, she adopts Jenny
Lind repertoire. The opera was a commission from Her Majesty’s
Theatre in London, where the Swedish diva was the main attraction.
This is a beautiful aria and though one can detect a slight beat in
the voice on long notes at this slow tempo it is an assured reading.
The cabaletta is impressive with all the coloratura spotless. Alzira
was not a success in Naples at the premiere and further productions
in Rome and Milan were more or less write-offs. The aria has a memorable
melody but as a whole it is rather empty. The cabaletta is almost
Attila wasn’t too well received by the critics but the
audiences liked it and it was performed throughout Italy and also
in Spain and Portugal. In the 1870s it disappeared and wasn’t
revived until 1951 at a concert performance under Giulini, which was
also recorded. There are several good episodes and the soprano aria
heard here is one of the best with a lot of florid fireworks in the
Aroldo is a re-working of the unsuccessful Stiffelio.
At the premiere at Rimini there were 27 curtain calls for the composer.
It was seen in many Italian houses during the following years. Nowadays
it is a rarity, since the rediscovery of Stiffelio.
I Lombardi was well received at the premiere and one reviewer
wrote: ‘If Nabucco created this young man’s reputation
I Lombardi served to confirm it’. Overall I Lombardi
is a much more uneven work than the predecessor but there are wonderful
moments and this aria is one of them. Lucia Aliberti’s soft
singing here is truly beguiling.
About Giovanna d’Arco few scholars have had anything
positive to say, even though it was enthusiastically received by the
premiere audience. Gabriele Baldini mentions one or two numbers with
some merits. One of them is Giovanna’s cavatina from the prologue,
which is the one Luisa Aliberti has chosen. Having listened to Montserrat
Caballé’s recording shortly before I listened to Aliberti
I missed the creamy tones of the Spanish soprano. Aliberti’s
tone sometimes spreads and becomes unsteady but a lot is good.
Un giorno di regno was Verdi’s second opera and this
comedy was a terrible fiasco. This is scarcely surprising when we
know that the 26-year-old had lost his two children and eventually
also his wife when at work on this score. Revivals, not least the
Philips recording in the mid-1970s, showed that the music isn’t
at all bad and the aria recorded here is delightful.
The premiere of La battaglia di Legnano in January 1849 was,
according to Roger Parker ‘ a clamorous success, with the entire
final act encored’. It seems that this happened at every performance
during the original run at Teatro Argentina in Rome. Lida’s
aria from the first act should have caused a furore too, at least
if it was sung as exquisitely by the original Lina, Teresa De Giuli
Borsi, as it is on this disc.
Ernani was Verdi’s greatest success until Il trovatore
was presented nine years later. It was also the first opera to be
recorded complete as early as 1904. Ernani, involami has been
a vehicle for fluent sopranos at recitals. Lucia Aliberti delivers
lovely pianissimo singing and fluent coloratura. Here, as in other
places, her highest notes are sometimes strained.
In latter years I due Foscari has been played in several opera
houses and possibly the most spectacular production was in Los Angeles
in September 2012 when Plácido Domingo sang the baritone role
of Francesco Foscari for the first time. The soprano aria here is
very beautiful and has an energetic cabaletta. The first Lucrezia
in this opera was Marianna Barbieri-Nini. She was also the first Lady
Macbeth three years later. A highly dramatic singer she also encompassed
splendid coloratura. When Aliberti finished this traversal through
12 Verdi heroines with Lady Macbeth it is a fascinating thought that
she follows in Barbieri-Nini’s footsteps. I never thought of
Aliberti as a truly dramatic soprano. Si colmi il calice is
on the other hand one of the Lady’s more lyrical outbursts.
Unfortunately I was only able to play the first minute or so of this
track, then it stuck. What I heard was very attractive.
By and large, with the small reservations I have expressed, this is
a fine recital with a lot of rare repertoire. The recording is first
class, the orchestra good and Caetani an experienced Verdian. Ideally,
though, I would have liked to have had English translations of the
I vespri Siciliani (1855)
1. Mercé, dilette amiche [3:19]
I masnadieri (1847)
2. Tu del mio Carlo al seno [3:41]
3. Carlo vive? [2:35]
4. Da Gusman, su fragil barca [4:03]
5. Nell’astro che piu fulgido [3:30]
6. Allor che i forti corrono [2:58]
7. Da te questo or m’è concesso [2:29]
8. Ah! Dagli scanni eterei [3:08]
9. Ah, dal sen di quella tomba [3:58]
I Lombardi alla prima Crociata (1843)
10. Se vano é il pregare [3:54]
11. I vinti sorgono [4:16]
Giovanna d’Arco (1845)
12. Sempre all’alba ed alla sera [4:19]
Un giorno di regno (1840)
13. Non san quant’ io nel petto ... [4:57]
14. Non vo’ quel vecchio [3:02]
La Battaglia di Legnano (1849)
15. Quante volte come un dono [3:10]
16. A frenarti, o cor nel petto [3:36]
17. Ernani, involami [4:28]
18. Tutto sprezzo che d’Ernani [3:09]
I due Foscari (1844)
19. Tu al cui sguardo onnipossente [3:54]
20. O patrizi, tremate [2:29]
21. Si colmi il calice [3:08]