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Donizetti: Pia De' Tolomei / Arrivabeni, Ciofi, Et Al


Release Date: 09/27/2005 
Label:  Dynamic   Catalog #: 488/1-2   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dario SchmunckAndrew SchroederLaura PolverelliFrancesco Meli,   ... 
Conductor:  Paolo Arrivabeni
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Venice Teatro la Fenice OrchestraVenice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Composed for Venice in 1837, just a year-and-a-half after the fantastic success of Lucia di Lammermoor, Pia de' Tolomei "pleased altogether", in the composer's words. He revised it a couple of times thereafter and it was shown at various theaters as distant as Malta until 1855, after which it disappeared. It takes place in 13th-century Siena: Pia is married to Nello; his cousin Ghino loves her but she refuses his advances. Ghino angrily accuses Pia of adultery with an unknown man, who turns out to be Pia's brother, Rodrigo, and Nello imprisons her. Ghino eventually feels remorse and confesses his deception, but not soon enough to save Pia from being poisoned by Nello.

One of the formal weaknesses of the opera is that
Read more Rodrigo is a mezzo-soprano role, and that type of travesty never quite works; but even elsewhere, the fact that Pia is so passive, added to generally formulaic writing, keeps the opera from being a winner. Still, there are some fine Donizettian tunes and scenes, and it's worth hearing.

This live performance finds a remarkably committed cast struggling uphill against Donizetti's lack of true inspiration, but the singers turn out a satisfying experience in the end. The star is Patrizia Ciofi as Pia. She delivers a specific, focused reading, beautifully sung and filled with as much textual and tonal nuance as the score allows. Her voice has gained body in the middle and the top still gleams. Ghino is sung by tenor Dario Schmunck, and he exhibits a fine, ringing tenor and good Donizettian style; his opening aria and cabaletta and the second half of his duet with Nello are exciting, vigorous parts of the score, and he tears into them well. Baritone Andrew Schroeder has a nice snarl as Nello, but aside from the cabaletta to his duet with Ghino he has pretty ordinary music. Rodrigo is given similarly uninteresting music, and Laura Polverelli sings it well enough. The chorus sings with as much involvement as the cast, which is saying a great deal, and the orchestra plays with verve under Paolo Arrivabeni. Recommended for Donizetti completists.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com

Italian/English libretto included.
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Works on This Recording

1.
Pia de' Tolomei by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dario Schmunck (Tenor), Andrew Schroeder (Baritone), Laura Polverelli (Mezzo Soprano),
Francesco Meli (Tenor), Daniel Borowski (Bass), Clara Polito (Soprano),
Carlo Cigni (Bass), Luca Favaron (Tenor), Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Paolo Arrivabeni
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Venice Teatro la Fenice Orchestra,  Venice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Italy 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  La Fenice Theater, Venice, Italy 
Language: Italian 

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