Donizetti: Linda di Chamonix

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COMPOSERS: Donizetti
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)
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