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COMPOSERS: Wolf-Ferrari
ALBUM TITLE: Wolf-Ferrari
WORKS: Die neugierigen Frauen
PERFORMER: Jürgen Linn, Peter Schöne, Kay Stiefermann, Andreas Weller, Jörg Schörner, Hans Christoph Begemann, Kathrin Göring, Agnete Rasmussen, Violetta Radomirska; Mitglieder des Madrigalchores der Hochschule für Musik und Theater München; Munich Radio Orchestra/Ulf Schirmer


Born Hermann Friedrich Wolf, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) added his mother’s maiden-name to his own to stress the Italian side of his birth-right: he was born in Venice and would eventually die there. Meanwhile he would spend a lot of his life in Munich, where in 1903 his Italian opera Le donne curiose had its premiere at the Residenztheater (now usually known as the Cuvilliés Theatre), and where this live recording was made at the Prinzregententheater in 2011. It was the second in a sequence of operas in which the composer would pastiche 18th-century opera buffa style and which have gone on to define his art to the wider world.

Based on a play by the 18th-century Venetian playwright Goldoni (who also wrote many librettos), The Inquisitive Women tells how a group of females, barred from joining a club to which their menfolk belong, eventually discover its (actually innocent) secrets. Wolf-Ferrari set an Italian libretto (by Luigi Sugana), though a German translation was used at the first performance – as at this one.


The composer’s lightweight neo-classical score can be garrulous and even a bit faceless; the fluttery material has a tendency to pall after a while. But it’s nicely performed here under the precise baton of Ulf Schirmer, with strong standouts from Agnete Rasmussen’s delightful Rosaura, Andreas Weller’s warm Florindo, Kathrin Göring’s vital Beatrice and Jürgen Linn’s extrovert Ottavio, while Peter Schöne’s Lelio gives as good as he gets from Violetta Radomirska’s lively Eleonora. George Hall