ALBUM TITLE: Donizetti
WORKS: Linda di Chamonix
PERFORMER: Edita Gruberová, Deon van der Walt, Jacob Will, László Polgár, Cornelia Kallisch; Zürich Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Adám Fischer; dir. Daniel Schmid (Zürich Opera House, 1996)
CATALOGUE NO: DV-OPLDC
Written for Vienna in 1842, this comparatively late work by Donizetti blends serious elements with comic (the buffo role of the Marquis of Boisfleury).From both a dramatic and a musical point of view it remains one of his most interesting operas. Despite a healthy career in the 19th century, it’s rarely performed these days, requiring as it does a top-class coloratura exponent in the title role.
That it certainly has in this 1996 Zürich production – in the shape of Edita Gruberová, who, if a trifle mature in years, fulfils every vocal requirement in an expert and accomplished piece of characterised vocal display. She’s ably partnered by the likeable, fresh-voiced Carlo of Deon van der Walt, and Armando Ariostini adopts a similar bel canto approach for her father, Antonio. In the smaller role of the teenage boy Pierotto, Cornelia Kallisch deploys a fine mezzo to powerfully expressive effect, and Hungarian bass László Polgár is stylish as a local clergyman. Jacob Will attempts with success a comic-malevolent reading of the Marquis.
A tale of near-seduction over the class lines with a happy ending, Linda receives a rather knowing staging here, but at least Daniel Schmid’s production takes the piece’s values seriously and renders the locations and situations intelligible. Adám Fischer is the laid-back and broadly sympathetic conductor, though why he should have dropped the overture (one of Donizetti’s best) remains a mystery. It’s not explained in the documentation, which is on the slender side of adequate. George Hall