COMPOSERS: Balducci,Bellini,Coccia,Conti,Cordella,Donizetti,L Ricci,Mayr,Mercadante,Meyerbeer,Pacini & Carafa,Rossini
LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: A Hundred Years of Italian Opera
WORKS: Arias by Meyerbeer, Mayr, Donizetti, Cordella, Rossini, Mercadante, Bellini, Balducci, L Ricci, Coccia, Conti, Pacini & Carafa
PERFORMER: Nuccia Focile, Yvonne Kenny, Susan McCulloch, Della Jones, Bruce Ford, Paul Nilon, Geoffrey Dolton, Ian Platt, Clive Bayley, Mark Glanville, Ashley Thorburn, etcPhilharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: ORCH 104 DDD
This is the third release in Opera Rara’s remarkable enterprise – an anthology which intends to recover, discover and reveal the repertoire and development of Italian opera from 1800 to 1900. This three-disc boxed set contains nearly four hours of music covering the years 1820-30, a decade which saw Rossini’s farewell to the Italian opera stage, Meyerbeer’s continued success, the early works of Donizetti and his contemporaries Mercadante and Pacini, plus the first operas of Bellini. The intriguing shift from Classicism to the age of Romanticism, full of its tragic queens and tormented heroines, is powerfully presented in this fascinating decade. There are copious, well-researched notes, and the operatic repertoire, though chronologically presented to maintain historical integrity, is richly varied in voice categories and combinations from cavatina to quintet and even the entire 26-minute Act I finale of Coccia’s Maria Stuarda – one of the few Italian operas to receive its premiere in London.
Singers, orchestra and conductor deliver uniformly good performances with several outstanding contributions. Della Jones is in spirited form in showpiece arias by Donizetti and Mercadante, Bruce Ford demonstrates his impressively pliant coloratura lines in Rossini’s Ugo, re d’Italia and Nuccia Focile excels in a shimmering and sumptuous Norma-esque Bellini romance. Other gems to be discovered include extracts from operas by Conti, Balducci, Cordelia and Luigi Ricci. Elise McDougall