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Cimarosa: Il Matrimonio Segreto / Travis, Fissore

Cimarosa / Travis / Fissore / Baiano / Bandelli
Release Date: 03/27/2007 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 4021  
Composer:  Domenico Cimarosa
Performer:  Paolo BarbaciniRoberto CovielloEnrico FissoreValeria Baiano,   ... 
Conductor:  Francis Travis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Switzerland Radio/TV Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CIMAROSA Il matrimonio segreto Francis Travis, cond; Enrico Fissore ( Geronimo ); Valeria Baiano ( Elisetta ); Antonella Bandelli ( Carolina ); Carmen Gonzalez ( Fidalma ); Roberto Coviello ( Count Robinson ); Paolo Barbacini ( Paolino ); Swiss Italian O Read more OPUS ARTE 4021 (DVD: 164:00) Live: Lugano 1986

There really should be a video standard to which all companies issuing archival film material on DVDs agree, one that involves a series of clear statements regarding product condition. As it is, we have the Arthaus 1968 Fidelio with Silja I reviewed in Fanfare 32:4, which warned at the film’s start about a deterioration I couldn’t see, and this Il matrimonio segreto from 1986, which provides no warnings at all, but repeatedly suffers from fuzziness in medium-to-distant shots and severe post-image artifacts around moving centers of light, such as candles. As there are numerous candles on the stage in act II, some of them being gestured with during arias and duets, the red blob that swirled around behind these light sources certainly deserved comment on the package.

This isn’t to say the production lacks merit. The singing in general is good. Antonella Bandelli has an exceptionally well-focused tone, with a narrow, quick vibrato. She displays excellent musical sense and breadth of line in “Come tacerlo poi,” the accompanied recitative that hints best at the darker emotions beneath the opera’s elegant surface. Her equal is Valeria Baiano, who doesn’t project quite as well, but delivers an effortless flurry of coloratura in her virtuosic aria, “Se son vendicata.” Roberto Coviello is a bit too dry and baritonal for my liking in the role of the Count, but he delivers the requisite smooth gentility that the role demands. Carmen Gonzalez is the only weak link, with a wide flap in her voice that makes for difficult listening. Paolo Barbacini has trouble with the relatively low top notes in his part, but offers an attractively free, lyrical sound, with good breath support. Unfortunately, his acting is wooden, with gestures and movements frequently appearing a shade too early or too late. By way of contrast, his opposite number is Enrico Fissore, one of those sturdy basses with exceptional acting skills that could hold together a flimsy work with ease, and a stronger one with panache. There are a few too many close-ups that look odd, considering the exaggerated facial expressions used to reach the audience, but he moves with authority and a sense of being completely in character.

The camerawork is otherwise good. This is one of the very few live filmed operatic productions I’ve seen that focuses on the strings or horns during the overture when they are featured—in other words, carefully prepared camerawork based on performance and score. Most stage shots are medium or distant, but even then, the distant shots are mobile enough to concentrate on the singers. My only regret is the level of blur associated especially with facial detail at medium range, as mentioned above.

Director Filippo Crivelli moves his people about with ease, adding stage business that for the most part flows seamlessly into the action. I note two exceptions. The first is the group of four non-singing servants, whose goofy antics and coarse acting reminded me, an ordinarily humane man, of the value of the bastinado. The second was the act II dinner scene for Geronimo, Elisetta, Fidalma, and the Count, in which Carolina pleads for time to get out of being sent to a convent, only to be ignored, ridiculed, or harshly reprimanded. Why is the table set only for four? Why are the first three so suddenly incapable of displaying even the slightest signs of remorse, even as they insist upon Carolina’s departure? Why is the Count, who admires and is infatuated with Carolina, completely stone-faced throughout? As staged, this scene is more appropriate to Rossini’s La cenerentola —and we hate Cinderella’s family in it for good reason, while these people should command our sympathies.

As for the stage design, it is a stylized combination of aqua and turquoise walls with numerous white door flats, their elaborate carvings drawn with charcoal. The props are few, while the costumes are appropriate for period, place, and class. There’s no digital sound, which is hardly surprising, given the performance’s age, but the treble is a bit lacking at the high end. Picture format employs a 4:3 ratio. Subtitles are only available in English, and there were numerous occasions when they dropped out completely for as much as 30 seconds at a time—and not just in arias where repetition was a factor. No synopsis or essay is included, just a list of cuts and timings.

Despite its packaging and audiovisual issues, I liked this version of Il matrimonio segreto . It is sprightly, well sung, and decently acted, with several standout performances. Francis Travis has the style of the work perfectly in hand, and the Swiss Italian Orchestra performs admirably. Don’t let the lack of stars fool you. There’s much to enjoy here.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal

Enrico Fissore, Valeria Baiano, Antonella Bandelli, Carmen Gonzalez, Roberto Coviello, Paolo Barbacini
Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana / Francis Travis, conductor
Harpsichord-master Marco Balderi
Stage Director Filippo Crivelli

REGIONS: All Regions
LENGTH: 164 Mins

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Works on This Recording

Il matrimonio segreto by Domenico Cimarosa
Performer:  Paolo Barbacini (Tenor), Roberto Coviello (Baritone), Enrico Fissore (Bass),
Valeria Baiano (Soprano), Antonella Bandelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Francis Travis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Switzerland Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1792; Vienna, Austria 

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