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Giordano Siberia 57928
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Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)
Siberia, three act opera (1903, revision 1927)
Stephana - Sonya Yoncheva (soprano)
Vassili - Giorgi Sturua (tenor)
Gléby - George Petean (baritone)
Coro e Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Gianandrea Noseda
Roberto Andò - Director
rec. live, 7 July 2021, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Reviewed in PCM stereo
DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57928 [104]

Giordano’s Siberia comes to its first home video release not terribly far behind the excellent Dynamic’s release last year of Franco Alfano’s Risurrezione (review). Both operas come from the Italian verismo school, were composed at approximately the same time, and tell somewhat similar stories, although the Risurrezione is based on Tolstoy whereas Siberia is a conglomeration of a few Russian authors. Siberia had its premiere at La Scala in 1903 but was later revised in 1927. It is that version which is used for this Blu-ray.

Siberia is dark and passionate tale of love and betrayal among the Russian upper-class which ends up with the three protagonists interned in a Siberian labour camp. The story is earthy and realistic but without much to distract one because of the locations of the final two acts. Roberto Andò conjures a mostly lucid production which has been hampered only by the silly device of having three extras in modern dress wander about the stage as a modern film making crew as if they were filming some sort of television drama. This device presumably is used to explain the mostly effective video projections by Luca Scarzella which does quite a bit to enhance the story and characters. The projections are so effective that they could have quite easily stood on their own without subjecting viewers to the regular annoyance of the distracting film crew nonsense, although possibly this was more irritating when watching it at home than it was in the opera house. The sets and costumes, while not flashy, are atmospheric and beautifully integrated to this rather depressing story.

Giordano’s music reveals itself to be well crafted even though there are no really memorable tunes that pop up as in Andrea Chenier or Fedora. The composer offers some atmospheric orchestral and choral writing which adds to the general mood. Giandrea Noseda leads this performance with a very certain hand and obtains much from his singers and orchestra. Sonya Yoncheva is the star of this show. Her Stephana is the work of a consummate professional. Yoncheva’s voice on this occasion is warm, rounded and gleaming in tone. Her awareness of the importance of movement and gesture to convey a fully dimensional character steals the show as much as her singing does. Tenor Giorgi Sturua may well become a valuable artist given time; his voice has a nice open-throated quality that reminds slightly of José Carreras in his younger days. Perhaps Vassili is just too heavy a role for him at this stage of his career, when he might be better employed in a more lyric repertoire. In Act One he seemed to struggle with the character, resorting mostly to stock hand gestures which was all the more apparent beside Yoncheva’s more concentrated physical approach to her character. His comfort with the role seemed to improve in the more dramatic second and third acts. George Petean as the villain Gléby commands the stage well in his scenes. His presence in the final act takes on a sinister quality that he put across with skill and just the right amount of bravado. His voice is firmly up to all of the demands of Giordano’s score.

Sound and picture on this Blu-ray are of consistently high quality and contribute greatly to the overall good impression. Overall I find that Siberia is less rewarding an opera than Giordano’s earlier two works, mainly because of their more easily appreciated tunes and the more colourful plots. Still it is certainly worth the occasional encounter. Coming so soon after the excellent Dynamic Blu-Ray of Risurrezione, I found myself comparing Siberia with the Alfano opera. I found that the Alfano’s operatic take on Russian literature opera comes out somewhat ahead of Giordano’s work on several fronts.

Mike Parr

Previous reviews (CD): Michael Cookson ~ Ralph Moore ~ Paul Steinson
Other cast and production staff
Nikona - Caterina Piva (mezzo-soprano)
Il principe Alexis - Giorgio Misseri (tenor)
Ivan - Antonio Gares (tenor)
Il banchiere Miskinsky - Francesco Verna (baritone)
Walinoff - Emanuele Cordaro (bass)
Il capitano - Francesco Samuele Venuti (bass)
Il sergente - Joseph Dahdah (tenor)
Il Cossaco - Alfonso Zambuto (tenor)
Il governatore - Adolfo Corrado (bass)
L’invalido - Davide Piva (baritone)
L’ispettore - Amin Ahangaran (bass)
La fanciulla - Caterina Meldolesi (soprano)
Gianni Carluccio – Set and Lighting Designer
Nanà Cecchi – Costume Designer
Luca Scarzella – Video Designer

Video details
Pitcure format: 1080i/16:9; Sound format: PCM stereo 2.0/ DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Sung in Italian; Subtitles: Italian, English, French, German, Korean, Japanese
Booklet notes: Italian, English

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