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Giordano: Marcella / Daolio, Formaggia, Dilengite

Giordano / Daolio / Formaggia / Dilengite / Benzi
Release Date: 05/26/2009 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 2110263  
Composer:  Umberto Giordano
Performer:  Natalizia CaroneDanilo FormaggiaPierluigi DilengiteAngelica Girardi,   ... 
Conductor:  Manlio Benzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian International OrchestraSlovak Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Umberto Giordano

Marcella – Serena Daolio
Giorgio – Danilo Formaggia
Drasco – Pierluigi Dilengite
Clara – Natalizia Carone
Raimonda – Angelica Girardi
Eliana – Mara D'Antini
Lea – Maria Rosa Rondinelli
Vernier – Marcello Rosiello
Barthélemy – Giovanni Coletta
Flament – Graziano De Pace

Slovak Chamber Choir
Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia
Manlio Benzi, conductor

Alessio Pizzech, stage director

Filmed at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy, on 4-6 August 2007 as part of the 33rd Festival of the Valle d'Itria, Italy

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format:
Read more Dolby Digital 2.0 / Dolby Surround 5.0
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, Italian
Running time: 67 mins
No. of DVDs: 1

R E V I E W:


GIORDANO Marcella Manlio Benzi, cond; Serena Daolio ( Marcella ); Danilo Formaggia ( Giorgio ); Pierluigi Dilengite ( Drasco ); Natalizia Carone ( Clara ); Slovak Chamber Ch; O Internazionale d’Italia NAXOS 2.110263 (DVD: 66:00) Live: Martina Franca August 2007

Umberto Giordano pursued a winning formula with Andrea Chenier (1896) and Fedora (1898), but found waning success with Siberia (1903). Sensing a need for change, he decided to go with a libretto that was the opposite of these—its attention focused upon the relationship of two people in effect outside time, cushioned from reality, rather than those of a romantic couple buffeted by powerful historical forces. The story he chose to illustrate this unfortunately comes across as a creaky cliché over a hundred years later, but it was powerful enough to be the subject of numerous novels, plays, and successful films through the 1920s, its best-known variant being The Student Prince.

In Marcella , the prince falls in love with a commoner—a homeless woman outside a fashionable Parisian restaurant—and launches a lengthy, idyllic affair. Then an army officer arrives, and points out that his father has fallen prey to bad advisors, leading to a popular uprising. The prince agrees to leave at once, and the woman insists he go alone, which he does to their mutual heartbreak.

Full-length operatic hits have been constructed out of less, but Giordano chose to avoid plot complications, set numbers, and slowing matters down with extraneous events. This was probably a miscalculation, as Marcella lasts only slightly longer than an hour. Without the mix of violence and easy tunes found in both Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci , it failed to hold its audience’s attention, despite a score that rises to inspired heights in its second of three scenes, and an excellent first cast that included Fernando de Lucia and Gemma Bellincioni. (Tito Schipa took the role of Giorgio in a Marcella revival during the 1937-38 season at La Scala. He was paired with Magda Olivero. Too bad I’ve misplaced my time machine.) This production is unlikely to reverse its fortunes, but it does more than hint at what Marcella could achieve with a first-rate presentation.

The direction is best described as functional. People move where they should, and there’s a clear sense of life on stage outside of whoever is singing at the current moment; but the love scenes in the second and third episodes are awkwardly posed. The set for the first scene, showing the street and shallow interior of the restaurant, is handled well, but the large, square column cutouts of the rest, dividing the back of the stage into three huge open sections with square windows, hardly proclaims the location as a countryside cottage. Unless it was renovated 30 years later by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The two principals are reasonably good. Serena Daolio has a few tremulous notes around the break, but otherwise delivers an emotionally committed and lyrically affecting Marcella. Danilo Formaggia (a former student of Alfredo Kraus) is hardly the romantic image of a youthful prince—not with a hairline that has receded to two inches above his back collar—but with a rather small voice he supplies a well-phrased, subtle, and intensely musical Giorgio. The others in the cast are all more than competent, and Benzi conducts the fine International Orchestra of Italy with both energy and an ear for color. There’s certainly plenty of both in Giordano’s opera.

The video format is 16:9, with sound available in Dolby Digital 2.0 and Dolby surround 5.0. Subtitles are provided in English and Italian, but there are no extras—more of a drawback than usual for an opera with such a short runtime. Still, fans of Giordano will find much to enjoy in this attractive work, which is not likely to appear in any local opera house soon. Recommended.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Marcella by Umberto Giordano
Performer:  Natalizia Carone (Voice), Danilo Formaggia (Tenor), Pierluigi Dilengite (Voice),
Angelica Girardi (Voice), Serena Daolio (Soprano), Mara D'Antini (Voice),
Maria Rosa Rondinelli (Voice), Marcello Rosiello (Voice), Giovanni Coletta (Tenor)
Conductor:  Manlio Benzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian International Orchestra,  Slovak Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 08/2007 
Venue:  Martina Franca, Italy 

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