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Meyerbeer: L'africana
Giacomo Meyerbeer, Riccardo Muti, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra
Meyerbeer: L'africana
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #3

"Norman's grand interpretation, well suited to the queen, is enjoyable ... Veriano Luchetti from 1971 has a more dramatic and attractive voice than the 1977 Giorgio Lamberti ... Giangiacomo Guelfi's fat sound in 1971 al...  more »

      
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"Norman's grand interpretation, well suited to the queen, is enjoyable ... Veriano Luchetti from 1971 has a more dramatic and attractive voice than the 1977 Giorgio Lamberti ... Giangiacomo Guelfi's fat sound in 1971 allows him to turn in an overall more satisfying 'Adamastor' than Sherrill Milnes in 1977." -- OPERA JAPONICA Live performance of this rarely-performed opera, Florence, 1971. Only budget recording on CD! Meyerbeer died before his last opera was quite finished. He was sure it was his masterpiece, and indeed it contains some of his finest music, particularly the beautiful tenor aria "O paradiso." L'africana was heard regularly around the world until about WWI, when it faded from view. It has had successful revivals in recent years along with other operas of its genre. The present performance is in the original five acts, although Acts IV and V are often combined in the theater.
 

CD Reviews

Another Opera d'Oro bargain
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 06/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""L'Africana" might not be the greatest opera ever written but it held the stage for many years, both in its original French version and when translated into Italian (as in this version). Every opera-lover knows, or should know, the famous Caruso recording of its most celebrated aria "O Paradiso", but there is much more to enjoy in well over two and a half hours' music.

The plot is preposterous and the title particularly absurd and offensive, in that there is no "African woman" in the opera; the principal female character is in fact an Indian Hindu - but no-one involved in the creation of this opera seemed to distinguish between two entirely different continents. Never mind; it's the music which matters. Not all of Meyerbeer's melodies hit the spot; one is aware at times of a certain lack of energy and a paucity of invention, but the best sections are affecting and stirring.

The cast here is impressive, not just Jessye Norman - though her presence is obviously a principal attraction. Here, in the earlier stage of her career, she displays the huge range and volume which make hers the Rolls Royce of voices, but we also hear one of those top-rate "second-rank" tenors who was a little overshadowed by the likes of Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras: Veriano Luchetti. He enjoyed a distinguished career and is, I believe, still very active teaching. His is a virile, very Italianate (hardly surprising) spinto tenor; not subtle but reliable and often thrilling. Some collectors will know him from his very satisfactory recordings of the Solti's second Verdi Requiem and the Muti "Nabucco". The huge-voiced baritone, Guelfi, is clearly past his best by this stage; the voice is a bit hoarse and shouty but he is still a presence, and he dramatises effectively, if occasionally a bit hammily. Norman is not the only star in this performance; the other lead soprano, Mietta Sighele, is also very good - and a singer previously unknown to me. She sometimes shows up the one weakness in Norman's performance: a tendency to fake or duck the highest notes by taking them pianissimo when clearly a more direct, climactic approach is required - but Norman's lower register is used to formidable effect and she characterises affectingly.

The recording is very good and at this price this is easily the most attractive way to get to know this work."