Thoroughly second rate
John Cragg | Delta(greater Vancouver), B.C Canada | 04/12/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is a rather weak opera by Donizetti. He wrote it with no specific performance in view, but instead in the hopes that an outstanding tenor would persuade theatre managers in Paris (and in some versions London) to put it on (since it has a showcase part for which would show off his talents.) In the event, this did not happen; there were a couple of unauthorized productions in Donizetti's lefetime and a couple in the 20th century; but the work is hardly a lost masterpiece. It is full of very routine and at times very shallow writing, with glimpses only occasionally that it is by the same comic genius as La Fille du Regiment or L'Elisir d'Amor. This version from a festival recording does not feature stellar performers. Giuseppe Morino, the tenor in the title role, luckily not a very dominant part, is rather strained when he tackles some of the showier bits. One feels for him, stuck in what is supposed to be a showpiece for brilliant tenors. The female lead, Luciana Serra, is considerably better. The orchestra and conducting are at best adequate.Part of the source of these inadequacies may lie in poor engineering, especially at the start, which makes what is coming through seem thin and strained. It is notable that either the cast sings their way into the opera as it proceeds, or the engineers figure out how to get a warmer and more sympathetic balance. There is a lot of better Donizetti available, and better performed, so this production should be well down most people's list, even if they are bel-canto opera nuts."