Il Ritorno del Marinaio
Ljubomir Puškarić, Marjukka Tepponen, Giorgio Surian, Aljaž Farasin, Marco Fortunato; Rijeka Opera Choir & Symphony Orchestra/Adriano Martinolli D’Arcy
Poor Suppé, often an overture but rarely an operetta on the programme. Now comes a first complete recording of his last comic opera Des Matrosen Heimkehr, sung in Italian as Il Ritorno del Marinaio for reasons that are best left for scholars to pick over.
The opera was generally admired at its first performance in Hamburg in 1885, though sterner critics noted that Anton Langer’s libretto was pretty thin stuff: Pietro, a sailor returning home from sea, rescues his daughter from the clutches of a wicked guardian, the local magistrate, who is proposing to send his rival off to sea. Two short acts of music but not much drama.
Suppé lavishes his considerable skill as an orchestrator on the work, which generally means lots of brass and percussion. And there’s an obligatory Viennese waltz, despite the fact we’re on the Dalmatian coast. Never mind – the Adriatic glitters amongst the first violins when we’re by the sea.
Pietro, elegantly sung here by the baritone Ljubomir Puškarić, is given some pretty tunes; and if his daughter Jela, the soprano Marjukka Tepponen, is sometimes less than lyrical it’s a supple voice and well-matched in an extended Act I duet with her boyfriend. Adriano Martinolli D’Arcy, conducting the Rijeka Opera Symphony Orchestra, keeps the whole thing rolling along including a suite of dances in Act II that remind us how Hamburg always liked dancing in its music dramas. But it’s the overture on its way to the concert hall that you find yourself humming.