ALBUM TITLE: Mercadante: I due Figaro
WORKS: I due Figaro
PERFORMER: Antonio Poli, Asude Karayavuz, Rosa Feola, Annalissa Stroppa, Mario Cassi, Eleonora Buratto, AnicioZorzi Giustiniani, Omar Montanari; Speranza Scapucci (piano); Vienna Philharmonic Choir; Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini/Riccardi Muti
CATALOGUE NO: DUC045-47
This is a surprise, and a most welcome one. It’s not often that you come across an opera you have never even heard of and find that it’s a gem. Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870) was an almost exact contemporary of Rossini’s, who said ‘He begins where we leave off’. Actually a good deal of this opera sounds very like Rossini, and when it doesn’t, it sounds like Donizetti, or even the far greater Bellini. I can’t say I found an individual voice, but at nearly three hours it is continuously entertaining, sometimes funny, and sometimes touching and beautiful.
The plot – hence ‘The Two Figaros’ – is a typically complicated affair, with the chief characters from Mozart’s Figaro together with a few new ones. The author is part of the opera – the real librettist was Felice Romani, leading provider of texts for operatic composers at the time.
I wouldn’t advise any amateur group to take this on: this live account from Ravenna is so enjoyable because of Riccardo Muti’s superb conducting. The performance is precise, perfectly judged in tempo and balance, and features a team of young singers who clearly love every moment of the work, together with a superb youth orchestra. I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t hear some of them again, and in this kind of repertoire. Full notes and the words in Italian and English are provided.