Penella

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Penella
LABELS: DG
WORKS: El Gato Month (The Wildcat)
PERFORMER: Placido Domingo; Verónica Villaroel; Juan Pons; Teresa BerganzaOrquesta Sinfónica de Madrid/Miguel Roa
CATALOGUE NO: 435 776-2 DDD
Written in Spain in 1916, Manuel Penella’s opera had a successful New York run in the Twenties, and has now been revived to coincide with EXPO ’92 in Seville. Teresa Berganza makes a cameo appearance as the gypsy fortuneteller whose palm-reading for the matador Rafael sets the simmering love-triangle of Rafael, Solea and Juanillo – ‘the wildcat’ — on its explosive course of destruction. Penella’s roots in the Spanish operetta form of the zarzuela enabled him to maintain an intrinsic national identity in his writing, while his musical flair for soaring dramatic vocal lines recalls Puccini. Ver6nica Villaroel is a real find as Soled – a powerful soprano with a unique grainy quality. Juan Pons revels in his bass-baritone ‘wildcat’ role with wonderfully consistent sound, and Placido Domingo as Rafael is in shining vocal form. All the supporting roles are of similarly high calibre. Miguel Roa ensures a spirited accompaniment, and remains vocally empathetic throughout. Overall, a remarkable release. Elisse McDougall

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