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Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809)
Opera Gala
L’infedeltà delusa, highlights [64:48]
La vera costanza, highlights [77:21]
WDR Funkhausorchester Köln/Markus Poschner, Manuel Hernandez-Silva
rec. 2009/11
CAPRICCIO C5255 [64:48 + 77:21]

Haydn is remembered for many things. His symphonies and his string quartets have become more or less normative for their genres. In addition his numerous piano sonatas are also highly ranked. Then there's the two late oratorios, Die Schöpfung and Die Jahreszeiten. What about his operas? They have always, with a few exceptions, tended to collect dust in the archives. Considering the high quality of his other works, shouldn’t his operas qualify for performances as well? I was lucky to see Il mondo della Luna at the Drottningholm Court Theatre outside Stockholm in the early 1970s. I found that this was spirited music in the Mozart mould, melodiously attractive and grateful for the singers. In vain I searched the catalogues of the record companies for this opera and the others. He wrote 14 full-scale operas for his patron at Eszterháza between 1762 and 1783 and another for London in 1891, unfortunately never performed there. Then at the end of the 1970s Philips announced a series of Haydn operas, conducted by Antal Doráti. With excellent soloists, including names like Elly Ameling, Jessye Norman, Frederica von Stade, Claes H Ahnsjö, Renato Bruson and Samuel Ramey, this was a grandiose remedy for the neglect. Somewhat later Hungaroton also did their share. Later Harnoncourt contributed. Even so, performances are still rare, although some productions are planned for 2017 in Hungary and Switzerland.

A taster for those curious about the music is this two CD set recorded for WDR in Cologne some years ago. The two operas highlighted here, L’infedeltà delusa and La vera costanza, were composed in 1773 and 1779 respectively. The liner-notes have very brief summaries of the plots but it is still difficult to know exactly what is going on in the various scenes. Both are however full of charming and entertaining music which is enjoyable in its own right. Both overtures – sinfonias they are titled – are ideal starters for a nice evening in the theatre. Then follow some ensemble scenes, a couple of duets and a row of arias. The solo singing is generally speaking on a high level. The two sopranos in L’infedeltà delusa, Simone Kermes and Chen Reiss, are lovely and technically accomplished. Ivan Paley is expressive and knows how to colour his vowels. In act 2 Jürgen Sacher impresses with his easy upper reach, and although his tone isn’t very attractive he is an excellent character singer with a ‘face’. In this act Simone Kermes turns out to be a riveting comedienne. Tenor Andreas Scheidegger is also full of humour in his laughing song. The finale is hilarious.

Chen Reiss takes part in La vera costanza as well but there she is only heard in the ensembles. It's still a pleasure to hear her well-focused voice. Juanita Lascarro has the main burden of the ladies and she sings with dramatic intensity, although her tone can at times be a bit squally. Thomas Michael Allen has a real hit-song in his act 2 aria (CD 2 tr. 12) and the other tenor, Rainer Trost, makes the most of his act 2 aria (CD 2 tr. 9), where his honeyed mezza-voce is truly exquisite. Of the two baritones Wolfgang Holzmair gives a reading worthy one of the great Lieder singers of the day. As for Paul Armin Edelmann he is excellent too. The playing of the WDR Rundfunkorchester is fully up to scratch and the two conductors cannot be faulted.

As an appetizer this set should be very attractive. Unfortunately the Doráti cycle is only available as a 20-CD box (review ~ review). Harnoncourt’s recordings (review ~ review) can be bought separately although neither of the two works highlighted here feature in his list.

Göran Forsling
 
Contents & Performance Details
L’infedeltà delusa
1. Overture [8:18]
Act 1
2. Introduzione: Bella sera ed aure grate [9:52]
3. Sandrina’s aria: Che imbroglio e questo! [4:16]
4. Nanni’s aria: Non v’e rimedio [3:38]
5. Vespina’s aria: Come piglia si bene la mira [6:51]
6. Duetto Vespina – Nanni: Son disperato [4:37]
7. Finale I: O piglia questa! [4:09]
Act 2
8. Filippo’s aria: Tu sposarti alla Sandrina? [6:43]
9. Vespina’s aria: Trinche vaine allegramente [1:40]
10. Nencio’s aria: Oh che gusto! [4:05]
11. Sandrina’s aria: E la pompa [5:22]
12. Finale II: Nel mille settecento [5:17]
Simone Kermes (Vespina – soprano) (2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12)
Chen Reiss (Sandrina – soprano) (3, 6, 7, 9, 12)
Andreas Scheidegger (Nencio – tenor) (2, 7, 11, 12)
Jürgen Sacher (Filippo – baritone) (2, 7, 8, 12)
Ivan Paley (Nanni – bass) (2, 4, 7, 12)
WDR Funkhausorchester Köln/Markus Poschner
rec. WDR Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal, Köln, 17 January 2009
La vera costanza, highlights
1. Sinfonia [5:43]
Act 1
2. Introduzione: Che burrasca! Che tempesta! [6:01]
3. Masino’s aria: So che una bestia sei [2:33]
4. Rosina’s aria: Con um tenero sospiro [4:07]
5. Vilotto’s aria: No sperate mi didisco [2:43]
6. Conte’s recitative and aria: Mira il campo all’intorno ... A trionfar [6:19]
7. Finale I: Bel godere la campagna [12:21]
Act 2
8. Duet Masino – Vilotto: Massima filosofica [2:23]
9. Ernesto’s aria: Per pieta vezzosi rai [3:46]
10. Rosina’s recitative and aria: Misera chi m’ajuta ... Dove fuggo [5:28]
11. Vilotto’s aria: Gia la morte in manto nero [4:14]
12. Conte’s recitative and aria: Ah, non minganno ... Or che torna il vago aprile [4:38]
13. Finale II: Animo risoluto [6:42]
14. Duet Rosina – Conte, Finale II: Ah, dove la mia Rosina? [10:19]
Juanita Lascarro (Rosina – soprano) (2, 4, 7, 10, 13, 14)
Chen Reiss (Lisetta – soprano) (2, 7, 13, 14)
Thomas Michael Allen (Conte Errico – tenor) (6, 12, 13, 14)
Rainer Trost (Marquis Ernesto – tenor) (2, 7, 9, 13, 14)
Paul Armin Edelmann (Vilotto – baritone) (2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14)
Wolfgang Holzmair (Masino – baritone) (2, 3, 7, 8, 13)
Siphiwe McKenzie-Edelmann (Baronin Irene – soprano) (2, 7, 13, 14)
WDR Funkhausorchester Köln/Manuel Hernandez-Silva
rec. WDR Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal, Köln, 7 – 19 February 2011

 

 




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