This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Written for a premiere in Rome at a time when the city was seething with nationalist and republican passions, an opera which celebrates the Italian victory against Barbarossa, and in which the hero leaps from a window crying ''Viva Italia'', had a better than average chance of success. The excitement was in fact such that the final act (admittedly only 15 minutes long) was encored in its entirety, and at one performance a soldier in the audience followed the hero's example and jumped from the gallery into the orchestra pit. Subsequently the opera's initial succes fou caused it to be associated with the mood of the moment and neglected even as an example of 'early Verdi'. Not that it is all that early. By January 1849 Verdi had already seen
12 of his operas produced (13 with the French revision of I lombardi) and had been a full decade in the business. Rigoletto was only two years away.
La battaglia has many fine qualities, but curiously for an opera making such a popular appeal in its time there is no broad immediately memorable melody to compare with the Hebrews' chorus in Nabucco or the big tunes of Ernani. A good deal of chorus work is involved (including two consecutive scenes for men's voices only), and a full allowance of arias, duets and ensembles. But only at the very end does the Grand Tune appear, and almost immediately it finishes: perhaps that is the way to make sure of an encore. Musically, the impressive feature of the score is its orchestration; dramatically, interest focuses on the predicament of the afflicted heroine and the relationship between tenor and baritone; artistically, popular nationalism is not the matter closest to its heart.
As the three interesting human beings concerned, Ricciarelli, Carreras and Manuguerra are remarkably good at creating genuine characters. The first two are also at the top of their form as singers; indeed, I don't think I would have recognized Ricciarelli in most of the First Act. Manuguerra, though often impressive, was just past his best (he had made his debut 16 years previously and was now over 50). In minor roles, the sort of part where one turns to the cast-list afterwards to ascertain identities, Dimitri Kavrakos distinguishes himself and Ann Murray does not. Gardelli conducts a splendid performance and the work of the Austrian orchestra and chorus is fine—how good, moreover, that the then hated enemy should be the country to provide them.
- GRAMOPHONE (11/1989 - original CD release)
Works on This Recording
La battaglia di Legnano by Giuseppe Verdi
Hannes Lichtenberger (Bass),
Dimitri Kavrakos (Bass),
Jonathan Summers (Baritone),
Franz Handlos (Bass),
Katia Ricciarelli (Soprano),
Nicolai Ghiuselev (Bass),
Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano),
Mieczyslaw Antoniak (Tenor),
José Carreras (Tenor),
Matteo Manuguerra (Baritone)
Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra,
Austrian Radio Chorus
Written: 1849; Italy
Date of Recording: 7/1977
Venue: Vienna, Austria
Length: 107 Minutes 57 Secs.
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