Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Umberto Giordano, Renato Palumbo, Patrizia Ciofi|
Giordano - Il Re · Mese mariano / Ciofi · Rivenq · Renato Palumbo
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
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Obscure but interesting
Julian Grant | London, Beijing, New York | 04/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This double-bill of late and obscure operas by Giordano (known for his barnstorming verismo 'Fedora' and 'Andrea Chenier')shows him searching for new solutions to stave off the imminent demise of the Italian opera tradition that came abruptly with the death of Puccini. Alas, none of Puccini's contemporaries were nearly talented enough to bear the torch, and either repeated old formulas with diminishing returns (post world war 1), or lapsed into silence - as Giordano did for the 20 years left him after 'Il re'. 'Mese Mariano', (a compact piece at 35 minutes) tells of a mother comes to visit her illegitimate son, consigned to an orphanage at the wishes of her current husband. It's a slight story - there are premonitions of Puccini's 'Suor Angelica' in the mawkish libretto, but the music is surprising, very much a chamber opera, sentimental but never emphatic or overblown. 'Il re', dating from 1929, is a curious mish-mash - a sort of commedia dell'arte confection about a headstrong girl who becomes uninterested in her lover because she has seen the king. The family petition him with their problem and he commands that the girl should stay the night with him. When he starts to take off his robes and jewels she sees a fat old man, and is soon restored to her lover. Originally written as a vehicle for coloratura star Toti dal Monte, it reveals that Giordano had been listening to developments north of the alps; the tone is occasionally surreal, grotesque and burlesque inventions predominate. Some very catchy orchestral writing with virtuoso trumpet, and xylophone show the influence of 'les Six' and Stravinsky, and there is a touch of the Richard Strauss of 'Ariadne auf Naxos' - plus a couple of deliciously tongue-in-cheek moments: a village-idiot folk song for chorus at the king's court, and a sudden irruption of piano lounge music in an interlude. It all doesn't really add up - the ending is a bit portentous and seems misjudged, Giordano seems uncertain whether to be sincere or tongue-in-cheek, but the piece has incidental pleasures, including a showstopping aria for the girl, complete with top E. Patrizia Ciofi sings both heroines, thus showing an impressive range, both vocal and emotional. It's a pleasing timbre and she is very musical. The other singing is more variable, the tenor in 'Il re' is a touch bleaty, but the king, Nicolas Rivenq, who has little to do, is suitably imposing. The live recording is shallow and a little close and there are occasionally obtrusive stage noises, particularly in 'Mese Mariano' where a running children's chorus sounds like a herd of elephants. The conducting and playing are fresh and spry, though some of the virtuoso moments in 'Il re' are a bit touch and go. If you like Italian opera and are interested in its obscure corners then give this a try."
TO COMPLETE YOUR GIORDANO COLLECTION
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 04/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AMAZING. TWO UNKNOWN OPERATIC JEWELS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE. FIRST; LIVE PERFORMANCES THAT ARE ACTUALLY WELL RECORDED, WITH GOOD, CLEAN, CLEAR SOUND. SECOND, SINGERS THAT ARE UNIFORMLY EXCELLENT, GREAT ORCHESTRA AND CONDUCTOR. THIRD: THE MERE FACT THIS MUSIC HAD NOT BEEN PLAYED FOR SO LONG, AND QUITE UNDESERVEDLY SO. "MESE MARIANO", THOUGH ONLY 35 MINUTES LONG, PACKS AN EMOTIONAL PUNCH AS STRONG AS A THREE ACT TEAR-JERKER. BRAVO GIORDANO!!!!!!!!!!"