"Lady Godiva: The Opera"
Leo J. Wolansky | 10/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a "no-name" opera with a "no-name" cast that is a wonderful surprise. Certainly the composer, Mascagni and librettist, Luigi Illica (Tosca) are renowned. The story is a modification of the Lady Godiva legend, although composer and librettist insisted this was not an adaptation. Whatever the case may be, the music and story are superb! Mascagni had become increasingly chromatic after the turn of the century (probably the influence of "Salome") and therefore much of the music requires a few listenings-to before appreciating the depth of its beauty. The conducting by Kees Bakels and the orchestra are superb. The finest music here is orchestral. Some of the arias even end in orchestral climaxes. The cast is all good. The best vocal music definitely belongs to the heroine, Isabeau, performed nicely by Lynne Strow Piccolo. Her voice is beautiful throughout and her interpretations are sensitive and touching, appropriate for Isabeau's "chaste and pure" character. Many prefer interpreters of Mascagni who are more prone to glottal shocks and other mannerisms, which the listener might find lacking from her performance. An interesting contrast is with Denia Mazzola, who recorded a much more dramatic and idiomatic "Voi Siete Il Re" on her Mascagni Heroines anthology. Adriaan van Limpt is very good as Folco, the "peeping Tom" and Isabeau's eventual love interest. Unfortunately for him (and for the opera), the tenor's big aria/scene starts very strong ("O popolo Di Vili!...E Passera La Viva Creatura") but ends in a corny march ("Gigli Al Bel Giglio Della Tua Bianchezza") which is probably the musical low-point of the opera. Henk Smit is very capable as King Raimondo. In a departure from the Lady Godiva legend, where the nude horse ride was in response to the ruler-husband, in the case of Isabeau, it is the result of a sentence imposed by the ruler-father. The opera ends in a gorgeous, evocative love duet ("I Tuoi Occhi!).
The sound quality on this live recording is excellent without overemphasis of voices. The opera has everything going for it, lyricism, drama, and even an erotic edge (chance for nudity)! Since the centennial is approaching (premier: Buenos Aires, June 2, 1911), the time is ideal for a revival. Some opera company could have itself a hit production!"
MAGDA OLIVERO'S MASCAGNI HEIRESS
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 01/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I AM REFERRING, FOLKS TO THE "UNKNOWN" AMERICAN SOPRANO LYNN STROW PICCOLO, WHO DURING THE 1980'S MASCAGNI REVIVAL SEEMS TO HAVE INHERITED MAGDA OLIVERO'S MANTLE AS THIS COMPOSER'S AND VERISMO'S SUPREME INTERPRETER, TO JUDGE BY HER RECORDED PERFORMANCES OF "NERONE" AND ISABEAU", BOTH ON BONGIOVANNI, AND LEONCAVALLO'S "ZAZA" ON GALA. I FIND IT IRONIC THAT THE REST OF THIS VERY IDIOMATIC AND EXCELLENT CAST IS
DUTCH, AS IS THE CONDUCTOR, KEES BAKELS. THE SOUND IS FIRST RATE, AND THE MUSIC IS SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL. A RECORD I HAVE ALREADY LISTENED TO TWICE, AND I RECEIVED IT YESTERDAY!"
Excellent neglected verismo opera
ALFRED H. Harris | Prunedale, Ca. | 04/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A fine live performance, excellently recorded, of an unjustly neglected opera. Lynne Strow Piccolo, in the title role, and Adriaan Van Limpt, as the tenor lead, sing their hearts out. The rest of the mostly Dutch cast, Netherlands Radio Symphonie and Radio Chorus led by Kees Bakels are all first class. Anyone in the least bit interested in fine romantic verismo opera should not hesitate to buy this recording. Perhaps I should have awarded five stars to this performance but MIGHT give that award to a newer recording with really well known singers in the main roles."