Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801)
L’impresario in angustie, Farsa per musica (1786)
Libretto by Giuseppe Maria Diodati
Don Grisobolo – Carlo Torriani (bass)
Don Perizonio Fattapane – Marco Filippo Romano (baritone)
Fiordispina – Paola Cigna (soprano)
Merlina – Lavinia Bini (soprano)
Gelindo Scagliozzi – Alejandro Escobar (tenor)
Doralba – Camilla Antonini ((mezzo-soprano)
Strabinio – Luca Gallo (bass)
Serena Agostini (harpsichord)
Orchestra Bruno Maderna di Forlė/Aldo Savagno
rec. 2017, Soundcheck Studio, Milan, Italy
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95746 [77:06]
Neapolitan composer Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) was a prolific creative artist, with more than eighty operas to his name. Today he is better known by Il matrimonio segreto, an opera buffa masterpiece and one that would influence his contemporaries and composers yet to come. Cimarosa specialised in comedies. The one on the present CD, L’impresario in angustie (the impresario in distress) was very successful and, during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, his most performed opera. The first version of L’impresario in angustie was a one-act farce, making fun of opera itself and premiered in 1786. An interesting coincidence here is that Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor, which deals with a similar story, also had its premiere in 1786. There are later versions of L’impresario in angustie, which the composer extended to two and also three acts, but the one act version was always the most popular. It is this one which is the subject of the present recording.
L’impresario is an opera buffa, described as farsa per musica, or operatic farce. It is interesting and indeed commendable that a CD has been recorded, mostly because it brings to our attention a work that today is relatively obscure, however much in demand it was in the past. The plot revolves around an impresario, his cast and creative team who are preparing a new opera for their theatre in Naples. The three leading ladies are each attempting to influence (to their own advantage) the impresario, the composer, and the author writing the libretto. Each of the women is trying to secure for herself the biggest role and the best music in the brand-new production. In turn, each of the prima donnas is the object of affection from one or more of the creators but the impresario is bankrupt and so, the work will never see the light of day.
L’impresario in angustie is a typical opera buffa of the time, where the mood is of light sentimentality. There are of course many recitatives preceding the actual singing, used commonly to move the action along. These are fine on stage but, in my opinion, become tiresome on a purely audio CD. Some are too long and not particularly attractive to listen to, so I must admit that on a couple of occasions I jumped to the next track where the singing actually began.
The cast was not known to me but, after having done some research, they emerged as bel canto specialists. There is some very fine singing especially from the bass, Carlo Torriani as Don Grisobolo (the impresario of the title) and the baritone, Marco Filippo Romano, as Don Perizonio, the librettist. Camilla Antonini, as Doralba, delivers an enjoyable performance and I found her mezzo sound rather attractive. The two sopranos – Paola Cigna and Lavinia Bini – as Fiordispina and Merlina respectively, give good, meaningful, at times charming performances. Colombian tenor Alejandro Escobar appears at ease with the role of Gelindo and negotiates his part efficiently, displaying some voice dexterity and solid high notes. The other bass, Luca Gallo as Strabinio, sings the part effectively too. Jumping over some of the recitatives, the music and singing became, to my mind, much more engaging and I enjoyed them, especially the duet Senti, senti l’augellino. This is one of the most attractive pieces of the whole opera, very pleasing and graceful with its solo violin, representing a bird in flight, complete with trills and glides. The orchestra Bruno Maderna di Forlė, conducted by Aldo Salvagno, delivers an excellent performance with a rather enthusiastic and accurate reading of Cimarosa’s score. Serena Agostini on the harpsichord lends a touch of class to the (for me) often boring recitatives.
The CD package is attractive with, as per booklet notes, a reproduction of a painting by Jacopo Amigoni (1682-1752) entitled Il cantante Farinelli con amici that, as you might have guessed, shows the great castrato singer Carlo Broschi, better known as Farinelli, with friends. The booklet includes an interesting piece, describing Cimarosa’s life; detailed artists’ biographies and a brief summary of the orchestra’s history – all in English only. The libretto is not provided, which is a pity, neither is an analysis of the music and that, to my mind, would have enhanced the listening experience.
In all, this is an enjoyable, interesting recording of L’impresario in angustie, with good, clear sound and effective, solid performances all round. If you are a Cimarosa fan or a collector of opera from the 18th Century, this is possibly a CD that you should purchase and add to your assortment.
Margarida writes more than just reviews, check it online at Flowingprose.com