Giordano: Siberia (DVD)
Sonya Yoncheva, Giorgi Sturua et al; Coro e Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Gianandrea Noseda (Dynamic / DVD)
Sonya Yoncheva, Giorgi Sturua, George Petean, Caterina Piva; Coro e Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Gianandrea Noseda; dir. Roberto Andò (Florence, 2021)
Dynamic DVD: 37928; Blu-ray: 57928 104 mins
Notwithstanding the public success of Andrea Chénier (1896) and Fedora (1898), Umberto Giordano is said to have preferred Siberia(1903). It indeed shows technical advance over his previous works: while by no means short on melodic appeal, there’s a canny use of local colour and a greater sophistication to the writing. In this production, director Roberto Andò moves the action forward from the early-19th century to the Stalinist 1930s – the horrific camps where the heroine, former courtesan Stephana, and her lover Vassili (who has killed her wealthy lover Alexis) end up were probably much the same. His second notion is to present the piece as a film in the process of being made: cameras and technical crew follow the singers around, the results presented on screens on either side of the stage. It’s handsomely done in visual terms and works surprisingly well.
But it’s the artistry with which the piece is tackled that convinces one that Siberia is unfairly neglected: the richness of tone, expressive subtlety and sense of style that Sonya Yoncheva (Stephana), Giorgi Sturua (Vassili) and George Petean (Gleby) lavish on the piece is just what is needed. Conductor Gianandrea Noseda presents Giordano’s music to its best advantage.