Donizetti: Il campanello di notte

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Newport
WORKS: Il campanello di notte
PERFORMER: Shon Sims, Samuel Hepler, Madeline Bender, Barbara Kokolus, James Powell; Manhattan School of Music Orchestra & Chorus/Christopher Larkin
CATALOGUE NO: NPD 85608
Music colleges do invaluable work in bringing neglected operas to a wider public with their student shows. This is a live recording of a production mounted by the Manhattan School of Music’s Opera Theatre, and judging by the reaction of the audience, whose laughter and applause are more than polite, it was a rip-roaring success on the night. On disc it’s another matter.

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Donizetti’s frivolous one-act farsa has an irresistible story – an ageing apothecary and his young bride have their wedding night constantly interrupted by the woman’s suitor who exploits a law obliging chemists to answer calls whatever the hour – and some delightful music. But though there is the odd promising voice (Samuel Hepler), the performances here are simply not mature enough to do the piece justice dramatically (Shon Sims as the suitor has to assume a variety of disguises – read silly voices – that grow more excruciating by turn) or technically (not much bel canto here). The sound is thin, the acoustic unforgiving, and the orchestra and chorus plodding and unfocused. A souvenir for the cast’s mums and dads, not a CD for the paying public. Claire Wrathall