Notes and Editorial Reviews
Composed in 1783, Thrice Betrothed, Never Wed was the young Cherubini’s fifth opera and his first opera buffa. While it echoes its era—Paisiello, Cimarosa, Haydn, and early Mozart—it displays an almost Rossinian rhythmic bite and a few harmonic touches that look forward to the dramatic masterpieces of Cherubini’s Paris years (Lodoiska, Medée, Les deux journées, Anacréon, the C-Minor Requiem). Despite decades-long exploration of Cherubini, I have never encountered the opera before; this claims to be its first recording. The plot is filled with the expected inanities: disguises, mistaken identities, and Commedia dell’arte shenanigans. Don Pastacchio is the thrice-betrothed nobleman who is left standing when the music
stops. After many false starts and red herrings, the other six characters finally match up into couples.
The overture is a gem, but the opera starts slowly; both music and performance get better as the evening progresses. The cast of seven young voices is more than satisfactory. Soprano Martorana sings smoothly and brightly in a role of fierce tessitura; her coloratura moves easily, but at first her pitch is unreliable. Nevertheless, she hits several notes well above high C right on. The second soprano is good, too, in a more reasonable range. The tenor has a fine ring, and the baritones are stylish and solid; vocal ensembles are lively if somewhat rough and ready. A good-sized orchestra (pairs of flutes, oboes, horns, and a clarinet, with strings 9/7/6/4/2) plays smoothly; the solo oboe is especially warm and colorful. Conductor Dimitri Jurowksi (not to be confused with the Russian National Orchestra’s Vladimir Jurowski) keeps everything moving along. A sweet-toned harpsichord enlivens the recitatives with imaginative flourishes. A bright, well-balanced recording captures everything nicely. Stage noises are a problem, however; loud and insistent, they can be most annoying. It must have been a lively production, for feet keep clomping even during arias and duets. Side-by-side Italian and English librettos are well printed on quality stock.
Martina Franca is a small hill town on Italy’s boot, home to the summer Festival della Valle d’Itria. The theater sounds like a small one, as the occasional applause could be fifty or sixty pairs of hands. Whatever the lacks of this production, its assets surmount them. Cherubini fans should be delighted to bring a rare, interesting opera into their sphere.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
Lo sposo di tre e marito di nessuna by Luigi Cherubini
Rosa Anna Peraino (Soprano),
Vito Priante (Baritone),
Maria Laura Martorana (Soprano),
Giulio Mastrototaro (Baritone),
Emanuele D'Aguanno (Tenor),
Rosa Sorice (Soprano),
Gabriele Ribis (Baritone)
Italian International Orchestra
Written: 1783; Italy
Date of Recording: 08/2005
Venue: Live Martina Franca Festival
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