Ponchielli: La Cioconda

COMPOSERS: Ponchielli
LABELS: Arthaus
ALBUM TITLE: Ponchielli
WORKS: La Cioconda
PERFORMER: Vienna State Opera/Adam Fischer; dir. Filippo Sanjust
A well-behaved Cenerentola from Salzburg in 1988 features a cold but well sung Angelina from Ann Murray and an earnest Don Magnifico from Walter Berry. More fun are Gino Quihco’s Dandmi and especially Francisco Araiza’s charming Ramiro, but Michael Hampe’s production works hard at the jokes. Riccardo Chailly conducts politely. Meyerbeer’s exotic L’africaine comes over with impressive vocal conviction in an old-fashioned San Francisco production of the same vintage by Lotfi Mansouri. The score has much to recommend it, and both Domingo’s Vasco da Gama and Shirley Verrett’s Seilika give full value. Ponchiclli’s hyper-melodious La Gioconda looks pure cardboard in a 1986 Vienna production by Filippo Sanjust, but again the singing bounces it along, with the ever-impressive Domingo and Eva Marton a Gioconda to reckon with. Adam Fischer conducts. Steven Pimlott’s 1989 arena production of Carmen nearly gets lost amid the vast spaces of London’s Earl’s Court, but there are dignified performances nevertheless from Jacques Trussel (Don Jose), Alain Fondary (Escamillo) and Miriam Gauci (Micaela), and a superb Carmen from Maria Ewing.