Donizetti: Operatic scenes & overtures

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COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Opera Rara
WORKS: Operatic scenes & overtures
PERFORMER: Nelly Miricioiu, Rockwell Blake, Garry Magee; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: ORR 207
Here are excerpts from nine of Donizetti’s lesser-known works for the stage, performed by some of the finest of today’s bel canto exponents. The tenor Rockwell Blake, unequalled in this repertoire, is heard in Fernando’s graceful Act I cavatina and forceful cabaletta from Marino Faliero, the cabaletta giving him fine opportunities to display his high notes. Nelly Miricioiu gives an affecting account of Maria’s larghetto prayer, ‘Havvi un Dio’ from Maria di Rohan, with its fine cor anglais support and its feverish cabaletta. The two singers unite in the Act I duet for Anna and Percy from Anna Bolena.

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They are joined by others in a quartet from Pia de’ Tolomei, admittedly one of the more uneven of Donizetti’s opere serie, and an especially impressive sextet from the obscure Gianni di Calais. The Philharmonia Orchestra under David Parry gives excellent support, and contributes sterling performances of three overtures, the imposing large-scale one to Maria Stuarda, the engaging one to the amiable comic opera L’ajo nell’imbarazzo, and the deceptively light-hearted one to the melodious and briskly moving Ugo, conte di Parigi. This disc is a splendid addition to Opera Rara’s series of recordings of early 19th-century Italian opera. Charles Osborne