LABELS: Opera Rara
WORKS: Carlo di Borgogna
PERFORMER: Bruce Ford, Elizabeth Futral, Roberto Frontali, Jennifer Larmore, Helen Williams, Dominic Natoli, Garry Magee; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Academy of St Martin in the Fields/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: ORC 21
It is hard, at least from this valuable new issue, to understand why Carlo di Borgogna should have flopped so badly at its 1835 Venice premiere. Pacini’s music is often stirring, as befits an opera set against the background of Charles the Bold’s exploits, and here David Parry conducts it with persuasive vigour. The composer may have realised he was being overshadowed by Bellini and Donizetti, as a five-year crisis ensued during which he wrote no further operas. But he found form again with his masterpiece, Saffo, and went on to achieve a tally of around 90 works for the stage – the man was prolific in every department, including his private life.
Bruce Ford brings plenty of presence to the title role, and his tenor has the weight demanded by the character. Carlo meets a violent end, administered on a bridge high up a Swiss gorge by Arnoldo, and sung here with nobility by the baritone Roberto Frontali. On the female side, the dramatic burden is carried by Estella, and Jennifer Larmore proves that her mezzo is up to the challenge; the part of Leonora makes coloratura demands which Elizabeth Futral meets in a bright, brilliant performance. John Allison