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Antonio CALDARA (c1670-1736)
Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa: introduction (1727) [3:37]
Sancio Pansa, governatore dell'isola Barattaria (1730 rev 1733): Act III: Aria: Per tanti obbligazioni Signor (1733) [2:27]
Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa: Act I: Recitative: Da sì austera virtù tuo cor [1:00]: Act I: Aria: Quel cor, che non vogl'io [4:00]
Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa: Act II: Aria: Si l'abbiamo, Ricciardetto [4:24]: Act II: Aria: Penso di già che appena [4:36]: Act II: Aria: Giache debe andar così [3:17]
Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa: Act IV: Recitative: Sancio amico [1:47]: Act IV: Aria: Primieramente, Sancio, abbi timore [4:45]: Act IV, Scene 8: Aria: Addio, Signor Padrone [3:56]
Sancio Pansa, governatore dell'isola Barattaria: Act II: Recitative: Scoperto, e in odio [0:38]: Act II: Aria: Confida al vento la sua speranza [3:02]
Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa: Act IV: Aria: Venga pure in campo armato [4:09]: Act V: Aria: A dispetto del vento, e dell'onda [5:01]
Nicola MATTEIS (c1670-1737)
Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa: Balletto Primo li Falconieri [4:41]: Vallo di Paesani e Satiri [10:40]
Sancio Pansa, governatore dell'isola Barattaria: Aria [0:53]: Tempo di Ciacona [1:24]
María Espada (soprano): Emiliano González Toro (tenor): João Fernandes (bass)
La Ritirata/Josetxu Obregó
rec. May 2016, Universidad Autónoma Madrid
Texts and translations into English
GLOSSA GCD923104 [70:09]

Cervantes published the second part of Don Quixote in 1615, some six months before he died, the first part having been in print since 1604. So, this cleverly programmed disc pays a salute both to Cervantes’ novel - and specifically to the 400th anniversary of his death - and also to operatic works that were inspired by it.

Caldara wrote Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa in 1727 and a few years later worked on Sancio Pansa, governatore dell'isola Barattaria though the opera was revised in 1733. Premiered in Vienna, both works are represented by some vivid arias and interspersed by purely instrumental items from the pen of the English singer, singing master and composer Nicola Matteis. His Viennese ballets used to be performed in the interludes of the opera at court balls and hence here too.

One can immediately hear how deeply Caldara must have relished the myriad possibilities for rich characterisation and scene-setting. João Fernandes is alive to textual matters in his very personable and characterful singing of Per tanti obbligazioni Signor. The bass also evinces knowing theatricality in a fine aria from Don Chisciotte, namely Giacche debe andar così which is notable for his avuncular but always word-conscious delivery and for a really splendid melancholic Addio Signor Padrone. María Espada has a light, brightly focused soprano without extraneous vibrato and the third singer, Emiliano González Toro, possesses a youthful, eager-sounding tenor which is heard to advantage in something like Venga pure in campo armato, where his lightly deployed virtuosity in divisions is supported by a vibrant if not fulltoned body of sound. Note too the bass aria A dispetto del vento where a wind machine effect really blows up a theatrical storm.

The balletic interludes are variously exciting and full of exciting instrumental touches – the Tempo di Passapie sounds like a real forerunner for The Magic Flute. They add verisimilitude to the deployment of arias even though, of course, we hear only selected arias and recitatives from both operas which, with the dance movements, total 70minutes altogether.

Occasionally some stage business – less effective than the wind machine – serves to undermine the dignified expressiveness of the singing, but instances of that are rare (one comes in Addio, Signor Padrone but it’s not the fault of the singer).

The Universidad Autónoma Madrid has a very resonant acoustic indeed, or at least does in this recording where a rather drier effect would have served things better. The sound stage is spread too wide. But that does not in any way efface memories of the splendidly athletic singing and playing to be heard.

Jonathan Woolf



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