Notes and Editorial Reviews
This over-the-top chunk of verismo may require many things, but subtlety is not one of them. And it's a good thing, too, since this live, 1959 performance is sledge-hammer dramatic, with two great if somewhat bull-dozing singers in the lead roles. The sound is old and blaring, but you can still make out the dripping passions of Olivero and del Monaco as Francesca and Paolo. The poem on which the libretto is based was called by its creator "an epic of blood and lust", and the illicit love affair seeps out of the speakers. There are wonderful things in the purple, sometimes Debussy-laced score, but you remember most the duets between the lovers, and here we get two grand, hyper-operatic voices at their best.
wronged, warlike Giancotto, (who marries Francesca and then discovers her affair with Paolo, his handsome brother), Giampiero Malaspina is truly frightening in his anger, and his huge voice fights well through the din. The whole cast is thoroughly involved as well. Zandonai's score contains lots of Straussian and Mascagni-like moments, and so a clearer recording really is needed to appreciate it, but this set certainly will let you know what the opera is all about.
As a bonus, we get the last 15 minutes of Cherubini's Medea in a 1971 performance starring Olivero. It is beyond criticism--Olivero uses a choked, raspy voice to portray Medea's perversity, and she's never afraid to shriek; in just a quarter-hour you get to know what a monster this character truly is. Again, it's subtlety free, but you won't be bored.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Francesca da Rimini by Riccardo Zandonai
Edda Vincenzi (Soprano),
Bianca Maria Casoni (Mezzo Soprano),
Anna Maria Rota (Alto),
Gabriella Carturan (Mezzo Soprano),
Enrico Campi (Bass),
Angelo Mercuriali (Tenor),
Dino Mantovani (Baritone),
Athos Cesarini (Tenor),
Giuseppe Morresi (Bass Baritone),
Rinaldo Pelizzoni (Tenor),
Magda Olivero (Soprano),
Mario Del Monaco (Tenor),
Giampiero Malaspina (Baritone),
Lydia Marimpietri (Soprano),
Pinuccia Perotti (Mezzo Soprano),
Piero de Palma (Tenor)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1914; Turin, Italy
Date of Recording: 06/04/1959
Venue: Live Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, Italy
Length: 137 Minutes 39 Secs.
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