Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Riccardo Zandonai, Mário Rossi, Turin RAI Orchestra|
Live broadcast, Turin, September 19, 1969. Riccardo Zandonai (1883-1944) is a fascinating figure in the later history of traditional Italian opera. Long regarded by many as the putative heir to Puccini, just as Puccini ... more »
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Live broadcast, Turin, September 19, 1969. Riccardo Zandonai (1883-1944) is a fascinating figure in the later history of traditional Italian opera. Long regarded by many as the putative heir to Puccini, just as Puccini was considered to have inherited the mantle of Verdi, Zandonai has managed to maintain a strong reputation mainly in Italy, although his most famous work, Francesca da Rimini, has been revived at the Metropolitan Opera with considerable success. Zandonai came from a poor family and showed musical talent as a child; he began composing at age eight, and at fifteen entered the Rossini Lyceum at Pesaro where he studied with Mascagni. Despite his studies with Mascagni, Zandonai never fully espoused the verismo school of "realism" in Italian composing, although it is frequently noticeable in Conchita. He was generally closer to the Impressionists in spirit, though he cannot be said to be of the school of Debussy and Ravel, or even Respighi. His musical language is firmly traditional, but with opulent or piquant effects of orchestration superimposed to create a strong sense of poetic atmosphere. At age twenty-four he was befriended by Arrigo Boito, sometime composer and librettist to Verdi, and well-connected in the music publishing world. Boito recommended Zandonai to the publisher Tito Ricordi, who commissioned an opera that showed promise at its premiere in 1908. A second opera, Conchita, followed in 1911 and was even more successful, being produced both in Milan and San Francisco. The orchestral writing in Conchita is rich, the vocal style frequently verismo. The first performance took place at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan on October 14, 1911. Zandonai's wife, the soprano Tarquinia Tarquini, sang the title role.
The other opera from a one-hit wonder
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 10/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"SOURCE: This is a September 19, 1969 live radio broadcast from Radiotelevisione Italiana, Torino.
SOUND: Opera d'Oro is, as always, economical with details. Based solely on what I hear, my guess is that this is an AM broadcast recorded off the air. Overall, the CD sound is listenable but compressed and a bit harsh for its date.
CAST: Conchita - Antonietta Stella; Mateo - Aldo Bottion; Conchita's Mother - Anna Maria Rota; Dolores - Giovanna di Rocco; Rufina - Rosina Cavicchioli; The Supervisor - Rosetta Arena; Estella - Rosetta Arena; A Woman - Emma de Santis; A Mother - Angela Rocco.
CONDUCTOR: Mario Rossi with the RAI Orchestra and Chorus, Turin.
FORMAT: Disk 1 - Act I, tracks 1-7, 34 min 13 sec; Act II, tracks 8-10, 19 min 36 sec. Disk 2 - Act III, tracks 1-3, 16 min 55 sec; Act IV, tracks 4-6, 20 min 09 sec.
DOCUMENTATION: No libretto. Seventy-eight word summary of the plot by Bill Parker. Brief essay on Zandonai and the history of the opera. Track list that identifies singers and provides timings.
COMMENTARY: Riccardo Zandonai (1883-1944) is a composer often regarded as a one-hit wonder. That hit is his 1914 opera, "Francesca da Rimini," which squats at the edge of the standard repertory and earns revival at some major opera house every decade or so. "Conchita" dates from 1911 and, though largely forgotten today, was the first work of Zandonai's to earn significant international attention.
Zandonai was a protege of the librettist-composer Arrigo Boito and a student of Mascagni. For some time, he was regarded as the heir to Puccini, just as Puccini was seen as the heir to Verdi. Today, however, he is a composer whose fame, such as it is, is mainly confined to Italy.
"Conchita" is loosely based on an 1898 novel by Pierre Louys called "Le femme et let pantin" ("The Woman and the Puppet.") For its time, the book was rather scandalous. Besides this opera, the book has spawned no less than four movies. The leading role has been played by stars of such magnitude as Marlene Dietrich and Brigitte Bardot. Perhaps the best known version for contemporary audiences--and by far the loosest adaptation--is Luis Banuel's "That Obscure Object of Desire."
The story involves a man's expensive and self-destructive pursuit of something of a bad girl who is, among other things, an exotic dancer. From this alone, it can be seen why the Dietrich of "The Blue Angel" fame was attracted to the part. For this operatic version, the story was given what the Italians of the day regarded as a happy ending: Conchita subordinates her own will and goals to give herself to Mateo, to whom she had been the obscure object of desire.
The cast on this recording boasts two very strong performers, Antonietta Stella and Anna Maria Rota. The rest range from pretty good to acceptably adequate. All I know about this opera is what I hear on this set, but the conducting and the orchestra seem to be entirely satisfactory. On the whole, I think this is as good a performance of "Conchita" that we are likely to get in the foreseeable future.
What problems I have with this set arise not from the performance but from the opera itself. Like "Francesca da Rimini," "Conchita" seems always to be in my face. Every number, every phrase in the orchestration seems to be blaring and agitated. I find no place of musical or dramatic repose anywhere in the piece. That is purely a personal reaction, of course, an others may well find virtues that entirely elude me.
This is a recording in fair (but no better) sound that offers a good performance of an opera that does not happen to appeal to me. On the basis of rarity and performance quality, I give it a shaky four stars."