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Franco Alfano: Risurrezione
Franco Alfano, Riccardo Zandonai, Elio Boncompagni
Franco Alfano: Risurrezione
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #2


      

CD Details

 

CD Reviews

A(lfano) to Z(andonai). Great Olivero--terrible sound
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 10/14/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Source: This appears to be an RAI broadcast from Turin dating from October 22, 1971, coupled with hefty chunks of a "Francesca da Rimini" from Milan, June 4, 1959.

Sound: The sad news -- for a recording made in 1971, this is a disgrace. Even considering that it is taken from a live performance, it is still a disgrace. "Risurrezione" sounds as though it were recorded from a clapped-out AM radio for a second-rate eight-track machine. The live audience is well-disciplined and scatters only a few coughs. "Francesco da Rimini" is slightly better recorded--very slightly better. Whoever recorded F da R contrived the extraordinary feat of making Mario del Monaco's foghorn voice sound small and tentative.

Format: Disc 1, Acts I, II and III, 25 tracks, 67m:36s. Disc 2, Act III (conclusion) and Act IV, 18 tracks, plus "Francesca da Rimini," 7 tracks, 66m:38s.

Documentation: No libretto. Summary of the plot is confined to a single paragraph. Brief verbal sketches are provided for Alfano, the opera and Magda Olivero. The track lists identifies the characters who are singing and shows timings.

A single hearing of "Risurrezione" is sufficient to establish that Franco Alfano had the verismo style down cold. The opera is absolutely at home with "Cavalleria Rusticana," "Pagliacci," "Andrea Chenier" and "Tosca." But it is just a little late, just behind the crest of the verismo wave, so to speak. Alfano was a fine craftsman with every tool in the verismo kit, lacking only the ability to craft a hit tune.

"Risurrezione" is based on Tolstoy's 1900 novel, "Resurrection." Despite that blue-blooded literary ancestry, Alfano's version is chock-full of good, low-down, Italianate emotion. For once, Alfano managed to avoid the weak endings that plague "Turandot" and "Cyrano." The opera ends with full-throttle exchanges between the tenor and the soprano that surely would work up any audience.

The unquestioned star of this recording is that prima donna assoluta, Magda Olivero. Would that she were better recorded! Poor as the recording quality is, the youthful Olivero (she was only about sixty at the time) sounds wonderful.

The tenor, Giuseppe Gismondo was a real surprise to me. He sings with a big, powerful, dark voice. As far as I can gather, he sang extensively with the second-tier opera companies in the US during the 1960s. Why he is not better known puzzles me.

Disc 2 is filled out with about twenty minutes of duets from "Francesca da Rimini," featuring Olivero and del Monaco. Olivero, naturally, is terrific. Del Monaco was probably singing quite well, too, but the recording is singularly unflattering to his big voice.

This is a hard one to call. The opera is pretty good. Olivero is always a treat and Gismondo is a pleasing surprise. But the sound is truly wretched--three stars.

Too bad.

****

A Follow-up Note--September 2005.

This performance is available from Opera d'Oro in markedly better sound, although without the Zandonai excerpts."
Alfano's big hit...
Eric D. Anderson | South Bend, IN United States | 08/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Risurrezione" was a work of Alfano's youth. He was but 29 when the work premiered in 1904. It was a hit, and was soon being performed at opera houses around the world, becoming a staple of Mary Garden's repertoire in Paris and Chicago, and reaching it's 1000th Italian performance in 1951. "Risurrezione" contains only hints of the complex, impressionist style of Alfano's maturity. It is flooded with the style of Alfano's idol Puccini, though Tolstoy's story has a more spiritual angle to it than Puccini's operas tend to have.The structure of the opera is splendidly balanced and concise, with offstage choruses, symphonic interludes, and beautiful arias aplenty. The arias deserve special recognition. The famous "Dio Pietoso", a favorite of Garden's, is beautiful and emotional, but it's the love music, along with the two arias sung by the male characters that impressed me the most. Dimitri's "Piangi, si, piangi", and Simonson's third act aria are both filled with not only beauty, but an earnest dignity, that can't help but move the heart.The character of Katiusha was a great favorite of many verismo sopranos, because there's such a variety of characters in the one. In the first act, she's a naive girl, in the second a disallusioned outcast. By act III, she's become a degraded, souless prisoner, hard drinking and chain smoking. But in the final act she's had a rebirth...the "Resurrection" of the title, and is strong enough to choose service to humanity over marrying the prince of her dreams, heart breaking as it is for her, and for us.This performance showcases an array of splendid singers--first and formost the legendary Magda Olivero, who was no spring chicken when this recording was made in 1971. But it was never sheer vocal beauty that set her apart, but rather her amazing dramatic instincts, which are always dead on. The Simonson is also really great. There's recently been a new recording of "Risurrezione" released on the Accord label, and available from Amazon's British sister site. It has the advantage of fat modern sound, which far better showcases Alfano's splendid orchestration. It also has a booklet with complete notes and libretto with translation, which this release lacks. But the singers suffer by comparison. Denia Mazzola has a more beautiful voice, but can't compare with Olivero in interpretation, and the new Simonson lacks the power and dignity of the one on the Gala set. My recommendation--buy both.Now let's see recordings of other Alfano operas..."L'ombra di Don Giovanni", "Madonna Imperia", "Il Dottor Antonio", etc., etc. Even a modern recording of "Sakuntala" would be a blessing!"