WORKS: Maria di Rohan
PERFORMER: Edita Gruberová, Octavio Arévalo, Ettore Kim; Vienna Concert Choir, Vienna RSO/Elio Boncompagni
CATALOGUE NO: NC 070567-2
One of the last operas Donizetti completed before collapsing into paralysis and insanity in the final stages of his venereal disease, Maria di Rohan is an opera seria of great power and originality. Its story of the unfortunate Maria, whose attempt to save her husband Enrico’s life leads to the suicide of her lover Riccardo, and her own disgrace, is told in music which is both dramatic and generously melodic, with an almost Verdian intensity and momentum. Highlights of the score include Maria’s two arias, Enrico’s baritone aria, a magnificent depiction of gnawing jealousy, and the third-act finale, its musical form bravely sacrificed to the demands of the drama.
The opera was given its premiere in Vienna in 1843 and, appropriately, this new live recording was made last year at concert performances in that city. Displaying her familiar qualities of pure, rich tone and remarkable vocal agility in the title-role, Edita Gruberová is highly affecting in her Act II duet with Riccardo and exciting in the feverish cabaletta which follows her Act III aria. Octavio Arévalo’s ardent tenor is well suited to the character of Riccardo, and Ettore Kim is an effective Enrico. The orchestra, which in this opera plays a prominent role throughout, is conducted stylishly by Elio Boncompagni. Charles Osborne