Donizetti: Imelda de’Lambertazzi

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COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: Donizetti
WORKS: Imelda de’Lambertazzi
PERFORMER: Nicole Cabell, James Westman, Massimo Giordiano, Frank Lopardo, Brindley Sherratt; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Mark Elder


No wonder the Naples audience turned their backs on Imelda de’Lambertazzi after the first performance in 1830. No Overture, no finale aria for the dying heroine, no Act I concertato, and precious little vocal decoration. Instead there is drama, driven forward by Donizetti’s rhythmic invention and an ear for melody. This is a composer trying to break the mould. Opera rara fields a strong cast for a libretto that circles the medieval civil war between Guelphs and Ghibellines. James Westman is a properly heroic Bonifacio who loves Imelda the daughter of his enemy. And Nicole Cabell’s Imelda is pretty stylish too: her cavatina, ‘Amarti, e nel martoro’ is by turns sweetly tender and rough. Frank Lopardo makes a noble leader for the Bolognese Ghibellines, and a heavy handed father, too, when Imelda’s love for Bonifacio breaks the surface of the plot. And as his son Lamberto – the nearest thing to a villain here – Massimo Giordano is a stylish bel canto tenor. The disc features Mark Elder in charge of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, both conductor and players on tip top form. There’s vigour in every number, and glorious clarinet solos from Antony Pay. Opera Rara is, as ever, to be congratulated for its faith in Donizetti as the maker of music dramas and for rescuing this fine work from the operatic doldrums.