LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Tyrants and Lovers
WORKS: Scenes from operas
PERFORMER: Nelly Miricioiu, Elizabeth Futral, Diana Montague, Eiddwen Harrhy, Bruce Ford, etc; various orchestras/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: ORR 221
Mostly this is a compilation of extracts from Opera Rara’s catalogue of early 19th-century exotica, but three new items are all worth seeking out. From Donizetti’s Torquato Tasso comes a rare scene for a villainous tenor, eloquently voiced by Bruce Ford. From the same composer’s Buondelmonte comes an oath-swearing ensemble for male voices that anyone knowing Maria Stuarda will recognise as the Scottish Queen’s final prayer, revamped by the composer to new words when the original libretto was banned by the King of Naples. Perhaps the most delightful is a trio for women from Balfe’s Falstaff which has enormous joie de vivre, and suggests that more of this Italian opera written for London by the Irish composer of The Bohemian Girl should be uncovered.
Everything else has appeared on previous issues. Particular favourites include Eiddwen Harrhy in an outstandingly beautiful aria from Mayr’s L’amor coniugale (which sets the same plot as Fidelio), Jennifer Larmore running up and down the scales like nobody’s business in Rossini’s Bianca e Falliero (which has never been staged in Britain) and Nelly Miricioiu in a piece from Mercadante’s Orazi e Curiazi – singing about as bel canto as it gets. George Hall