ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Bianca e Falliero
PERFORMER: María Bayo, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli, Carlo Lepore, Ornella Bonomelli, Dario Benini, Jirí Prudic, Karel Pajer, Stefan Cifolelli; Prague Chamber Choir; Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia/Renato Palumbo; dir. Jean-Louis Martinoty (Pesaro, 2005)
CATALOGUE NO: 33501 (NTSC system; 5.1 surround; 16:19 picture)
It was at Pesaro’s Rossini Opera
Festival in 1986 that Bianca e Falliero
received its first production in
modern times, a performance with
a fine cast (but some cuts) that was
recorded. Opera Rara followed it up
with a complete recording in 2000,
so Dynamic’s new release, made in
Pesaro in 2005, brings the tally to
three. Not bad for a work that until
relatively recently was unknown,
but such is the gathering momentum
of the Rossini revival.
Bianca e Falliero deserves this
attention, without being one of the
composer’s most interesting works.
It is a mature score, written in 1819
for Milan, but in keeping with the
unadventurous Milanese taste its
form is on the conservative side. Set
in 17th-century Renaissance Venice,
it tells of how the marital ambitions
of Bianca and Falliero are thwarted
by Bianca’s father, Contareno, who
for political reasons has offered his
daughter’s hand to Capellio. Only a
last-minute reversal of fortune leads
to the lovers’ union.
Venice is evoked in Jean-Louis
Martinoty’s garish yet fundamentally
staid production, with a giant Lion
of St Mark looming over everything.
But the stock designs come from
a different planet to Tintoretto.
Under Renato Palumbo’s solid
baton, the principals are fine if
not truly compelling Rossinians.
Daniela Barcellona is taxed by the
demanding part of Falliero, yet still
well matched to the impassioned
Bianca of María Bayo. Francesco
Meli (Contareno) and Carlo Lepore
(Capellio) are both strong in the
context of a performance that was
not in desperate need of preservation. John Allison