WORKS: Beatrice di Tenda
PERFORMER: Mariana Nicolesco, Piero Cappuccilli, Stefania Toczyska, Vincenzo La Scola, Iorio ZennaroPrague Philharmonic Choir, Monte Carlo Orchestra/Alberto Zedda
CATALOGUE NO: SM3K 64539 DDD
Bellini’s penultimate opera was received unenthusiastically at its premiere in 1833, and has never attained the popularity of Norma. Early this century it disappeared completely until revived in 1935, as part of the centennial commemoration of the composer’s death. In recent years, its tragic heroine, the wife of a Milanese duke, falsely accused of infidelity and executed at her husband’s command, has been portrayed by such notable bel canto specialists as Joan Sutherland, Leyla Gencer and June Anderson. This dramatically vigorous and well-constructed work contains some of Bellini’s finest and most characteristic melodies, among them a ravishingly beautiful trio, ‘Angiol di pace’. Its neglect for so many years is difficult to comprehend.
Zedda conducts an ardent performance, sung by a first-rate cast. As Orombello, La Scola sings throughout with pure tone and a fine appreciation of Bellini’s long phrases. The experienced Cappuccilli is the vengeful Duke, heard at his best in ‘Qui m’accolse’, the aria in which he hesitates before signing the warrant for his wife’s execution, and the Romanian soprano Mariana Nicolesco brings a vibrant and flexible voice and a forceful personality to the role of Beatrice. Highly recommended to all who know and love Bellini’s more frequently performed operas. Charles Osborne