A neglected mid-19th century masterpiece...
B. Cathey | Wendell, NC United States | 01/08/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Saverio Mercadante had the misfortune to always be in the shadow of better known Italian contemporaries...first, Rossini, then Donizetti and Bellini, and finally--and most frustratingly to him perhaps--the genius Verdi. Nevertheless, during a good deal of his lifetime his operatic oeuvre was esteemed, and rightly so. IL GIURAMENTO in many ways represents, along with IL BRAVO, ORAZI ED I CURIAZI, his LA VESTALE, and a few other works, his finest contribution to the Italian stage. In IL GIURAMENTO he demonstrates his full creative powers, combining the long, somewhat simplified lyrical line (that reminds one at times of Bellini), the sense of drama (foreshadowing Verdi), with skillful orchestration and musicality. The Myto recording gives us a fair reading of perhaps this his best known work, IL GIURAMENTO. Thomas Schippers conducts a taut performance and Beverly Wolff offers a finely shaped interpretation as heroine Elaisa; Michele Molese is the tenor lead, Viscardo, and is less pleasing vocally. Still the performance is significant as one of the few representations of this unjustly neglected and beautiful work on silver disc, and a good way to become familiar with this important milestone in Italian opera.
Although not commercially available presently, a concert version of IL GIURAMENTO from Vienna, 1979 (Gerd Albertct conducting), featuring Domingo as Viscardo, Mara Zampieri as Elaisa, and Agnes Baltsa as Bianca, once existed on LP (and cassette). It's a sterling, if cut, performance, appropriately stressing the very lyrical and simplified vocal lines that Mercadante favored in his "reform" operas such as IL GIURAMENTO. If you can find it, snatch it up as a supplement to the Myto recording."