LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci
PERFORMER: Cavalleria rusticana: Violeta Urmana, Vincenzo La Scola, Dragana Jugovic, Viorica Cortez, Marco di Felice; Pagliacci: Vladimir Galouzine, María Bayo, Carlo Guelfi, Antonio Gandía, Ángel Ódena; Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro Real/Jesús López Cobos;
CATALOGUE NO: OA 0983 D
The verismo movement was launched in the early 1890s by these two operas, with their lowlife settings, everyday characters and violent emotional relationships. They have been virtually inseparable ever since. Giancarlo del Monaco’s Madrid staging (2007) links them even more closely by placing Pagliacci’s Prologue – the manifesto of realism – before the staging of Cavalleria. This more or less makes sense, as do, in broad terms, del Monaco’s productions of the operas, though the Cavalleria set makes Mascagni’s Sicilian village more abstract by recreating it as a marble quarry. Pagliacci, on the other hand, feels more traditional as it is brought forward to the period of Fellini’s films, recalling the Italian director’s realist masterpiece La strada.
That both these productions work is largely due to Jesús López Cobos’s theatrically vital and style-sensitive conducting and two strong casts. Violeta Urmana’s Santuzza and Marco di Felice’s Alfio give full vocal and dramatic value in Cavalleria, though Vincenzo La Scola’s Turiddu is more finely sung than acted. In Pagliacci, Vladimir Galouzine offers a Canio of terrifying intensity, well partnered by María Bayo’s pristine Nedda, whose bid to free herself from an unwanted marriage ends in disaster. Here the weak link is Ángel Ódena’s Silvio, who is pleasant rather than the Latin lover-boy really wanted. But Carlo Guelfi’s Tonio is grandly drawn. Whatever the weaknesses, the two pieces come over vividly, and Opus Arte provides exemplary packaging with worthwhile cast interviews and a thoughtful note by Tom Sutcliffe.