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Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Cavalleria rusticana (1890)
Alexia Voulgaridou – Santuzza
Marina Ogii – Lola
Angelo Villari – Turiddu
David Cecconi – Alfio
Elena Zilio – Mamma Lucia
Cristina Pagliai – Una donna
Chorus & Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino / Valerio Galli
Lorenzo Fratini (chorus master), Luigi di Gangi & Ugo Giacomazzi (stage directors), Federica Parolini (set designer), Agnese Rabatti (costume designer), Luigi Biondi (light designer)
Bonus Feature: Interviews with Galli, Villari, di Gangi and Giacomazzi [6:11]
rec. February, 2019 at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Subtitles: Italian (original language), English, French, German, Japanese, Korean
Sound format: PCM 2.0/DTS HD Master Audio 5.1; Picture format: 1080i60 1 BD 25 NTSC 16:9
DYNAMIC 37843 DVD [80 mins]

Mascagni’s great “hit,” Cav scored a great success in Florence, the scene of this production, when in 1940 the composer toured Italy with the piece, with Zanetto, another Mascagni one-acter. It is particularly appropriate therefore that Tuscan conductor Valerio Galli conducts this particular account. Strengthening the geographical suitability, the tenor Angelo Villari is Sicilian, as are the two directors Luigi di Gangi and Ugo Giacomazzi, who are actually two theatre actors (which explains the quality of the dramatic as well as the vocal performances here).

The production includes a troupe of Devils portrayed by masked children, tapping into a tradition from the town of Prizzi in Palermo in which Devils celebrating the crucifixion of Christ are eventually beheaded by an avenging angel. There is an element of Greek theatre (deliberately, as Ugo Giacomazzi explains in an accompanying interview) with the Bacchus (think of the brindisi) and Hecuba as inspirations. On-stage fire links to the Hades of the Devils but also to the fire of lust and passion that pervades the opera. The prevailing darkness is appropriate to the subject matter, the illuminated Christian cross during the Easter hymn seen in high contrast.

The young conductor Valerio Galli is in total command of the idiom, shaping the piece with a real structural-dramatic overview. The orchestra clearly like him and give their all: the Intermezzo is every bit as powerful as the prelude. In a sense it’s a shame there is so much going on onstage as there, if you see what I mean, is so much going on in the orchestra. He marshals the fine chorus of the Maggio Musicale well, too.

Making his debut at Maggio Musicale in this performance, Villari gives an impassioned, well-sculpted account of Turiddu, his off-stage contribution to the Prelude perfectly distanced; he may look a little straight-laced in his Brindisi, but it’s all there in the voice. His is not the only extraordinary voice: the Mamma Lucia, Elena Zilio, is a full-voiced force of Nature, Santuzza (Alexia Voulgaridou) has all the power required, her “Voi lo sapete O Mamma” supremely focused; again, the orchestral detail is impeccable, with the voice and orchestra nicely placed in the sound picture. Marina Ogli is, both in looks and voice, perfectly cast as Lola, all woman, oozing seductiveness. But it is when Voulgaridou and Villari are together that sparks really fly; and they actually sing in proper octaves in the climactic moments.

Great to have interviews with the conductor Valerio Galli, with tenor Angelo Villari and the two stage directors also. The interviews are short but they pack a lot of helpful information in.

Short measure for a DVD, for sure (even more so for a BluRay), but a production and performance well worth experiencing.

Colin Clarke

Previous reviews: Göran Forsling (CD) ~ Robert Cummings (Blu-ray)

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