LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Il Sibilo
WORKS: Songs and duets
PERFORMER: Nuccia Focile (soprano), Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi (mezzo-soprano), Paul Charles Clarke (tenor), Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (bass), David Harper (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ORR 219
The Whisper – to translate its title – was a Neapolitan journal of the early 1840s that included for the delectation of its readers short songs aimed at the domestic market of the day. The contributing composers included the leading Italians of the period – Donizetti, Rossini, Mercadante, Pacini – as well as figures rare even by the standards of Opera Rara – Sarmiento, Lillo, Luigi Cammarano and others.
This collection brings together 26 items from Il sibilo, almost all of them for the first time on disc (the bulk of them were never published elsewhere – even some of the Donizetti items are completely unknown). Intended essentially for amateurs, they make no great demands on performers nor, for that matter, audiences, though almost all are attractive trifles, and some quite memorably so. Here they are divided between four accomplished singers and a fine pianist, and a pleasant hour can be spent listening to them and exploring through Jeremy Commons’s comprehensive notes the musical, literary and social
world that produced them. Also here, and not dissimilar, are six further items by the same group of composers, including a couple of duets and a brief cantata in the form of a quartet. George Hall