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Nicola Vaccaj: La Sposa Di Messina / Fogliani, Pratt, Adami, Ariostini, Ono

Vaccaj / Pratt / Adami / Ariostini
Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8660295   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Nicola VaccajNicola Vaccai
Performer:  Wakako OnoJessica PrattFilippo AdamiArmando Ariostini,   ... 
Conductor:  Antonino Fogliani
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi BrunensisBrno Classica Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 44 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

VACCAJ La Sposa di Messina Antonio Fogliani,cond; Jessica Pratt ( Isabella ); Filippo Adami ( Don Emanuele ); Armando Ariostini ( Don Cesare ); Wakako Ono ( Beatrice ); Maurizio Lo Piccolo ( Diego ); Virtuosi Brunensis O NAXOS 8.660295-96 (2 CDs: 103:31) Read more Live: 7/15–18/2009

This is a recording of a very rare opera by a little-known composer, Nicola Vaccaj, whose last name is written as Vaccai in the Grove Dictionary of Music . He was born in Tolentino, Italy, in 1790 and died in Pesaro in 1848. Vaccaj was an Italian composer and teacher who studied under Paisiello in Naples. He composed 17 operas from 1815 to 1846, and La Sposa di Messina was his second-to-last.

In the opera’s premiere the plot disgusted the public, and the second performance consisted only of the first act, and act II was replaced by the second act of Donizetti’s Parisina. This concert performance was given at the Rossini-in-Wildbad Bel Canto Festival, and was the first revival ever.

The libretto by Jacopo Caglanca was based on Friedrich Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina. The opera is set in Sicily in remote times. Two brothers, Don Emanuele and Don Cesare, meet at the request of their mother, Isabella. The brothers quarrel with each other and their meeting breaks up in discord. Isabella then instructs Diego to bring her daughter, Beatrice, who has been raised in a solitary retreat and is ignorant of her parentage. Beatrice waits in a garden for her lover, Emanuele. She has no idea that they are related. A stranger, Cesare, appears, who declares his love for her. Beatrice rejects his advances, but he insists that he will return the following morning.

In the tomb of the Kings of Messina, Emanuele asks his followers to bring flowers and a wedding gown to Beatrice, whom he intends to marry. Cesare arrives along with Isabella, and she asks them to cease their rivalry. They are about to agree when Isabella tells them to await the arrival of their sister. Both are astounded because they believe that their sister died in infancy. Diego arrives and says that Beatrice is missing, and states that he feels she has been abducted. Isabella grieves, and Emanuele and Cesare vow to find their lost sister.

The second act begins in a remote spot. Cesare’s followers see Emanuele enter. They inform Cesare that he and his brother are in love with the same woman. Cesare vows revenge. The second scene is in a garden. Beatrice is fearful of Cesare, and Emanuele comforts her. Cesare and his followers arrive, and Cesare accuses Emanuele of trying to steal the young woman he loves. Emanuele states that he, not Cesare, is Beatrice’s true lover. The brother quarrel and Cesare slays Emanuele. The scene ends with the followers of both fighting each other.

Cesare’s followers have carried the unconscious Beatrice to a hall in the palace of Messina. Isabella’s ladies revive her and she wonders whether the murder of Emanuele actually took place or where she was just dreaming. Isabella realizes that the young woman is the same age as her lost daughter and she suspects that Beatrice is really her daughter. Emanuele’s followers enter carrying the corpse of Emanuele, whose identity is covered by banners. Beatrice realizes that she was not dreaming, and Isabella draws back the coverings of the corpse and is horrified when she finds it to be her son. She curses the fiend that killed him. Cesare enters and Beatrice, who is terrified, accuses him of murdering his brother. Diego arrives and reveals that both brothers have been in love with their own sister. Cesare is horrified and kills himself with a dagger. Isabella asks God to strike her down and terminate her suffering in a final aria.

It was the plot, not the music, that caused the failure of this opera. Italian audiences of the 19th century were disgusted with the idea of a man killing his own brother, and for the corpse to be carried on stage. The music is interesting and there are good arias and ensembles.

Jessica Pratt, an Australian soprano, has a fine coloratura voice, and sings the role of Isabella very well. Also quite fine is the tenor Filippo Adami, who is considered a specialist in Rossini. His voice is bright and clear. The baritone Armando Aroiostini is Italian and is well known for his Figaro in Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia . He sings this role forcefully. Wakako Ono is a Japanese mezzo-soprano; she sings her role quite well.

Maurizio Lo Piccolo is an Italian bass who has appeared in many major opera houses. He has a fine voice and is a good Diego. Antonio Fogliani is a fine conductor who has conducted many operas at Wildbad, and is excellent in this type of music.

The sound is very good. The booklet contains a listing of the tracks and an essay by Jeremy Commons, who also contributes a plot summary, and there is an article on each singer, as well as the conductor, the choir, and the orchestra.

Anyone who enjoys 19th-century Italian opera should have this rare issue. I recommend it heartily.

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Works on This Recording

La sposa di Messina by Nicola Vaccai
Performer:  Wakako Ono (Mezzo Soprano), Jessica Pratt (Soprano), Filippo Adami (Tenor),
Armando Ariostini (Baritone), Maurizio Lo Piccolo (Bass)
Conductor:  Antonino Fogliani
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi Brunensis,  Brno Classica Chamber Choir

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A worthy addition to the catalog April 1, 2014 By J. Tatnall (West Grove, PA) See All My Reviews "The opera is not uninteresting, and I'm sure in the theatre this performance had impact. It is thoroughly professional. The chorus and orchestra are fine, and the conductor has the score well in hand. However, the voices, while strong and capable, are not beautiful. Wobbles and bleats abound. It is worth the price of admission for those who are curious about the work of secondary composers of the period, and a worthy addition to the general catalog." Report Abuse
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