"While this is not necessarily the Verdi most are familiar with, this second opera is still very much an enjoyable Verdian opera. It will not take long to recognize the Rossini influence, however Verdi has polished the style and has made it his own. Being one of only two comedies he composed, it's lighter tones will further differentiate it from what one is accustomed to, but Verdi seems quite comfortable with it. As for the performance, while I've only heard this one, I liked it very much."
This is supposed to be Verdi at his worst???
Aram V. Barsamian | Fullerton, CA United States | 09/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most opera lovers know that this was Verdi's second opera and first fiasco. The failure of Un giorno di regno hit him so hard that he almost gave up his career as a composer. As reasons for the fiasco we are told that while Verdi was composing this opera buffa, his wife and two children died. It is understandable that someone dealing with such personal tragedy may not be in the best mental state to write a comic opera. And that is all most of us know about this opera.
But after hearing this recording, I think it is completely unfair to apologize on Verdi's behalf. Un giorno di regno is absolutely delightful. Sure, it's not hysterically funny, like Rossini's comic operas, but the music is extremely well-crafted. Verdi really did know what he was doing even though he was still in his 20s. Listen to the Marchesa's beautiful big aria in Act II, with its graceful chromaticism, ornamentation and cadenzas. It's gorgeous stuff, almost reminiscent of Bellini. There is plenty of wonderfully energetic music. Perhaps taking his cue from Rossini and La Cenerentola, Verdi wrote TWO wonderful buffo duets (Treasurer/Baron). Many of the pages of Il corsaro, Alzira, Attila and Giovanna d'Arco strike me as uninspired "filler". But I do not get that feeling with Un giorno di regno. I think Verdi did a great job... mostly...
Bless his heart, he did not quite know the capabilities of the human voice yet. The soprano roles are actually quite low, with the Marchesa regularly dipping down to low Cs, Bs and As. The soprano lead in Verdi's first opera, Oberto, also descends below the staff on a regular basis. The men's roles, however are all very high. Verdi did not write many high Cs for his tenors. I can think of one case in which Verdi asks his tenors to sing a high C: Otello ("cortigiaaaaaNA!") and a high D: I vespri siciliani. But here Verdi asks the tenor to sing a high C and hold it (in the act II aria). All three of the bass/baritone buffos regularly ascend to high Es, Fs and F-sharps.
Now, the performance. It's marvelous. First of all, Fiorenza Cossotto is just perfect as the Marchesa. Beautiful tone, personality, coloratura, high notes, low notes -- she's got it all. Not a single note is strained or forced. Jessye Norman is quite obviously out of her element here. Much of what she does is lovely and cute, but when surrounded by the likes of Cossotto and Carreras, it becomes apparent that she is simply not very idiomatic here. The Italian is not good, especially in recitatives. Her intonation is sometimes off. But one can hear that she is an intelligent singing actress.
Carreras is heavenly. In 1974 he was at the beginning of his career and the voice is handsome, full, unforced and soaring. The high C I mentioned earlier is magnificent! Ingvar Wixell does a great job as well. His voice is resonant, full of color and his delivery is appropriately humorous. He handles the high tessitura of his aria very skillfully. Vicente Sardinero was, I think, a very underrated artist. He had a glorious baritone, well displayed on the recording of Puccini's second opera, Edgar. Here he is the Treasurer and sings beautifully. Vladimiro Ganzarolli is the Baron. Gorgeous bass! He also handles the high tessitura wonderfully and infuses his delivery with great comic colors.
You just can't lose with this recording. The music is delightful -- a real testament to what Verdi was capable of, even in the worst of circumstances. This opera really needs no apology. The performances are great. The price is low. There is just no down-side. Get it and let us know what you think of it."
THIS OPERA IS GREAT
Mario Gonzalez Dorado | 08/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you want to know what joy of singing is, try listening to this opera. It's really great. Terrific. You'll find joy in it, and you'll never think you've lost your money because you've bought it."
Charming and accomplished - and just look at the cast
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 07/15/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having made a survey of the Philips "Early Verdi Project", I left this, Verdi's second opera, until last, being influenced by the received wisdom that it was an irremediable failure. Certainly Verdi regarded it with contempt and it since has mostly been consigned to oblivion apart from a few stuttering revivals. It is clearly heavily indebted to Donizetti and, especially in finales, Rossini, but it is still a very well crafted and entertaining work, sparkling and engaging if not exactly funny.
And just look at the cast: a roll-call of great singers of the early 70's, headed by Carreras in finest youthful voice; he sings his arias with a winning combination of elegance and passion. I often think that his contribution to this series represents Carreras's most valuable, enduring and admirable work, and he is surrounded by singers of equal quality. What a pleasure to hear Wixells' grainy, characterful baritone; his Italian, both sung and spoken is exemplary and he relishes his role as a royal impersonator. Cossotto, a few intrusive aspirates in her runs apart, sings magnificently, whie Jessye Norman, mushy Italian not withstanding, treats us to her lovely legato and breadth of phrasing. Supporting roles are cast from strength, not least Vincenzo Sardinero's handsome baritone and Ganzarolli's ripe bass as the Barone di Kelbar - a cousin to Don Magnifico in "La Cenerentola" and every other grasping, social-climber of a father in opera buffa who wants to marry off his daughters profitably.
There are glimpses of the Verdi to come, such as his exploitation of the expressive and versatile possibilities of 3/4 time signatures, but although Verdi shows himself a master of the idiom, he writes somewhat dutifully and formulaically. This is not his true Fach and the subject matter is clearly not congenial to him.; the result is a derivative and retrospective opera with little of the originality which marks out those operas of the early 1840's written once he had begun to find his true voice. No wonder "Nabucco" made such an impact subsequently. Understandably, Romani's workmanlike, if flawed, libretto did not ignite the composer's fantasy the way Boito was able to do with "Falstaff", Verdi's next comedy, whose premiere was a mere fifty-three years later. Nonetheless, this sole extant recording of "Un giorno di re" does not deserve neglect; it is worth repeated hearings for the quality of the singing alone and deserves its sobriquet as the one of the best scores Donizetti never wrote."