Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Gaetano Donizetti, Antonello Allemandi, London Philharmonic Orchestra|
Donizetti: Francesca di Foix
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A delightful little piece by Donizetti revealed by a superb
M. Ramos | 11/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Opera Rara has distinguished itself in presenting rarely heard works with superlative performers and very informative booklets. This case is no exception: this delightful little piece by Donizetti sparkles with the cast and orchestra on this recording. Francesca di Foix, a one act opera that was a failure at its premiere, receives here a first rate treatment, revealing that the work is not bad at all. It even have tunes that were used later in the second act of the famous L'Elisir d'amore. The silly plot involves a foolish count who in his profound jealousy decides to make his beautiful wife Francesca a virtual prisoner, telling the King and the court that she is secluded because she is very ugly and course. The King,a Duke and a page cousin of Francesca concocted a plan to reveal Francesca and teach the Count a lesson, all with a happy ending. The music is sparkling and includes some clever ideas, like the funny duet between Francesca and the Duke and a final scene where the King has the cavatina and Francesca the cabaletta. All this is served superbly by the performers. The London Philarmonic Orchestra, under Antonello Alemandi, bring crisp support to the singers. Alfonso Antioniozzi as the Count projects a voice that conveys perfectly the foolishness of his character. Pietro Spagnoli brings a handsome tone and good command of the belcanto line to the King, with a fine rendering of his arias. Bruce Ford, as always, bring a virile tone and total command of his technique. He is specially effective in the duet with Francesca and in his own fine aria. Jennifer Larmore bring a fine voice and tremendous technique to the role of the page; even when her role is not large, she makes the best of her participation, especially in the Canzonetta del paggio. Now the best for last: the lovely French coloratura soprano Annick Massis has a voice of such beauty and technical mastery that make you wonder if she is human or an angel. In the title role, Massis makes the most of every scene she is in, from her first aria until the final rondo, bringing a perfect command of the belcanto style. And those high notes! The higher she goes, the most beautiful the voice sounds. Massis also has an excellent Italian diction and is totally involved in the text. In particular, this is evident in the duet with the Duke, where Francesca is told what her husband is saying of her. Massis says the word "Vendetta" in an expressive manner going from a high D to a low Bflat in chest voice, showing her anger. I hope that Opera Rara produces a solo recording with Massis soon. This a delightful recording that would please all fans of Donizetti and great singing."
John Cragg | Delta(greater Vancouver), B.C Canada | 02/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This one-act opera by Donizetti is an oddity. It is termed a "Melodramma giocoso" -- or a joking melodramma -- and it is more a comic opera than a melodraqmma. It had one production until Opera Rara revived it, not surprisingly given its awkward length and light-weight plot -- not that the latter has stopped many operas from getting more productions. It was also composed for a setting where it would not be surprising if Donizetti did not take the composition seriously. However, he actually lavished a good deal of fine music on it -- much of which -- either in small segments or in big junks -- he used in later works. Don't be surprised to find yourself suddenly in l'elisir d'amore -- this is where Donizetti got the familiar and distinctive music from in the first place. This work indeed contains much of Donizetti in top form.
Opera Rara has given it a splendid performance. The soprano, Annick Massis, makes a wonderful job of her role, and she is well matched by the other principals, especially by Jennifer Larmore, who as always would steal the show if the other singers are not up to snuff and the always reliable tenor, Bruce Ford. The conducting is sensitive without being obtrausive, with an excellent orchestra and chorus. All together, an excellent cd, nicely augmented by one of Opera Rara's typically generous booklets."