Melody Moore, Brian Jagde, Elisabetta Fiorillo, Lester Lynch, Roxana Constantinescu; Leipzig Radio Choir; Dresden Philharmonic/Marek Janowski
Pentatone PTC 5186 772 65:48 mins
This new version of Mascagni’s one-act wonder is everything that verismo should be: intense, passionate and heart stopping as it reaches it’s grisly climax.
Marek Janowski, working with his own orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic transforms what is often a lumbering warhorse into a Wagnerian thoroughbred. As he unfolds the opening prelude, scales the climax of the Easter Hymn or slips into the celebrated Intermezzo you wonder whether you’ve really heard this opera before. And his orchestra rewards him with some sumptuous playing – particularly the strings – and always a scrupulous attention to detail.
The youngish cast is on point too. Melody Moore’s Santuzza has a smoky quality in her lower register hinting at the incomparable Leontyne Price. It underscores her desperation in ‘Voi lo sapete’ when she confesses her history of abuse to Mamma Lucia. And both Santuzza and Brian Jagde’s Turridu ratchet up the drama in their scene outside the church. Remarkably, Jagde almost wins our sympathy when he begs his mother to care for Santuzza before setting off for his duel with Alfio
Lester Lynch is a perky Alfio in his cart, relishing the jaunty melody Mascagni gives him, but he seems to have aged a lifetime by the time that Turiddu bites his ear. Was Lola worth it? Roxana Constantinescu tosses off a flirty version of her aria that leaves you wondering.
When the end comes, there’s no shrieking, no melodrama. The chorus – the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir – who have sung their hearts out for Janowski simply intone their final line. Turiddu is dead: rustic honour is satisfied.