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Umberto GIORDANO (1867 – 1948)
Fedora – Daniela Dessì (soprano)
Loris – Fabio Armiliato (tenor)
De Siriex – Alfonso Antoniozzi (baritone)
Olga – Daria Kovalenko (soprano)
Dimitri – Margherita Rotondi (contralto)
Desiré – Manuel Pierattelli (tenor)
Baron Rouvel – Alessandro Fantoni (tenor)
Cirillo – Luigi Rono (bass)
Boroff – Claudio Ottino (baritone)
Gretch – Roberto Maietta (bass)
Lorek – Davide Mura (baritone)
Lazinski – Sirio Restani (pianist)
Peasant Boy – Sebastiano Carbone (boy alto)
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Carlo Felice/Valerio Galli
rec. 2015, Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova
DYNAMIC CDS7772.02 [67:27 + 34:07]

Say “Umberto Giordano” to someone fairly knowledgeable on opera and you get “Andrea Chenier” in response. Say “anything else?” and silence is the most common response, unless someone remembers: “there is an aria that every tenor has recorded, even Caruso. It is called Amor ti vieta, but what’s the name of the opera? Fedora, isn’t it?” It is, and Caruso at the tender age of 25 sang the tenor part (Loris) at the world premiere in Milan in 1898 and eight years later at the Metropolitan Opera premiere. He also recorded the aria in 1902, one of his earliest recordings.

Complete recordings have been relatively sparse. In 1931 the indefatigable Lorenzo Molajoli set it down with La Scala forces. Mario Rossi with the Milan Radio Orchestra and with Maria Caniglia in the title role and Giacinto Prandelli as Loris recorded it for Cetra in the early 1950s. In 1961 Arturo Basile and Chorus and Orchestra from San Carlo, Naples recorded it with Tebaldi and Di Stefano, supposedly a live recording. Decca’s recording from 1969 with Lamberto Gardelli and the Monte Carlo Opera chorus and Orchestra, is my reference version, boasting Magda Olivero in brilliant form, Mario Del Monaco as Loris and Tito Gobbi as De Siriex. In 1985 Giuseppe Patanè with Eva Marton and José Carreras recorded with Hungarian Radio forces and then in the 1990s Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo recorded it twice on DVD, the earlier one at La Scala with Gianandrea Gavazzeni at the helm in 1993 (which must have been one of his last recordings) and three years later at the Metropolitan Opera with Roberto Abbado conducting. I reviewed the Gavazzeni set almost ten years ago and it is highly recommendable, bearing in mind that Mirella Freni wasn’t in the first blossoming of her youth (she was approaching sixty) but apart from a too generous vibrato at times hers is a deeply moving reading of the part.

Daniela Dessì was also approaching sixty when the present set was recorded, and also in her case the passing years had been merciful with her voice. In fact she sounds even fresher than Mirella Freni and impresses greatly throughout the performance. She crowns the achievement with a deeply touching Tutto tramonto. She sadly died of cancer a little more than a year after this performance. Her Loris is her real-life husband Fabio Armiliato, who once was hailed in L’Opera as “the best Chenier of our time”. I have had reasons to admire him on several occasions, both live and on DVD and CD, and have to admit that there are signs of a slight deterioration in his voice. The dramatic power is there and Amor ti vieta rings out impressively but the tone has hardened ever so slightly, but considering that he was a year older than his wife it’s not surprizing. Just as in Andrea Chenier there are a lot of minor roles in Fedora, and even though the names were unfamiliar to me, apart from Luigi Roni in the brief role as Cirillo, the coachman, there is an impressive high level of achievement from all participants. The most prominent De Siriex, who has the other aria that is at all well-known, La donna russa, which Alfonso Antoniozzi sings well, without quite the vivacity of Tito Gobbi in the Gardelli recording. Daira Kovalenko is a good Olga and Claudio Ottino an excellent Boroff.

Valerio Galli leads his forces from Teatro Carlo Felice expertly and I was deeply impressed by the excellent sound quality and the almost total lack of intruding noises. There is distant applause at the end of acts but it is quickly faded out, and the whole production can be strongly recommended to anyone wanting a recording of this opera. As a complement I also recommend the Gavazzeni DVD. First and foremost the present recording is a worthy memorial to the art of Daniela Dessì.

Göran Forsling



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