Notes and Editorial Reviews
DOMENICO CIMAROSA (1749 – 1801): Il matrimonio segreto (The Clandestine Wedding), Dramma giocoso in two acts
Cinzia Forte; Priscille Laplace; Damiana Pinti; Alberto Rinaldi; Aldo Caputo; Mario Cassi; Orchestra Opera Royal de Wallonie/Giovanni Antonini
Stefano Mazzonis Di Pralafera, direction; Fernand Ruiz, costumes
Recorded: Liège, February 2008
NTSC All Region; 16:9; LPCM 2.0; Approx. 155 mins.
Subtitled in Italian, English, German, French & Spanish
class="ARIAL12bi">Il matrimonio segreto
Giovanni Antonini, cond; Cinzia Forte (
); Priscille Laplace (
); Damiana Pinti (
); Alberto Rinaldi (
); Aldo Caputo (
); Marco Cassi (
); Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Liège
DYNAMIC 33631 (155:00) Live: Liège 2/2008
This version of
Il matrimonio segreto
has several things in its favor, starting with plausible set designs by Jean-Guy Lecat. Streamlined for easy movement, they nonetheless convey an atmosphere of elegance, the kind that the upwardly mobile Geronimo might provide in his fashionable home. They also furnish layered areas to create a sense of activity and dimension, such as the servants’ walk space behind the sitting room and beyond multiple archways, under a night sky. The costumes, too, are good, save for Geronimo’s, which goes so far over the top in its bizarre foppishness as to leave me wondering whether its creator took haberdashery suggestions from Beckus the Dandiprat.
Stefano di Pralafera does a reasonable job of blocking his cast’s movements, as well as providing them with plausible reasons for actions and reactions. Setting the opening duet for the secretly married Paolino and Carolina in silhouette behind a curtain divider was a clever idea, though the occasional subsequent attempts at superficially imposed visual gags misfire without fail. The first time the front curl in Geronmio’s white wig quickly unrolled and straightened like a party whistle at some other character’s comments, I thought it was bizarrely out of place, though the audience chuckled. Audience silence greeted repeats numbered two through six.
But if di Pralafera is competent if idiosyncratic as stage director, in his other role as light designer he’s less successful. It’s been many years since I took a couple of courses in stage and lighting design, but I do recall a few basic, important rules that were emphasized repeatedly to us. First: Never light a stage straight down from directly over the actors’ heads, unless you want to blind your audience with glare. Second: Use colored gels to re-create the natural color spectrum that’s part of normal indoor and outdoor lighting. Third: Light from below in front of the actors on a darkened stage only if you’re trying for an eerie, haunted effect. All three rules are broken here, but the worst is the lighting from directly above. The glare is so bad on shoulder straps, pads, and hair pieces as to make the digital recording simulate a worn analog reissue on numerous occasions.
The cast is good, for the most part. Cinzia Forte’s agile, soubrette-like soprano provides for a pert Carolina. She forms a good vocal contrast to the richer-voiced Priscille Laplace, who unfortunately is made up with a ridiculous Pinocchio-like nose and lengthened chin—presumably under the directorial impression that she has to be a villain, and villains require caricature. Damiana Pinti is an effective Fidalma, a strong mezzo with a good, bright top, though somewhat unfocused in her lower range.
Among the men, Aldo Caputo starts poorly, but recovers to present a stylish, gleaming Paolino. Marco Cassi is better still, with a high baritone sound and a distinguished treatment of the bel canto line. Only Alberto Rinaldi is a moderate letdown. The loss of chest resonance that affects all singers sooner or later in life has led in his case to forcing the tone, and an attendant loss of pitch. He also lacks breath support, but in shorter lines, especially parlando, his stage experience stands him well. The entire cast acts capably, with Cassi considerably better than that.
Giovanni Antonini delivers a sprightly rendition of the opera, only occasionally forcing tempos in an attempt to build excitement. The Liège musicians respond with accuracy and spirit. Camerawork is too concerned with close-ups to catch the byplay between performers, unfortunately, but that almost seems endemic in operatic DVDs these days. At least in this production the cameras stay focused on a singer for longer than two to three seconds at a time.
The lighting to one side, this is a generally attractive performance of
Il matrimonio segreto
. It’s good to see it available on DVD, where it takes a respectable place alongside Travis/Lugano (Opus Arte 4021) and Griffith/Schwetzingen (Euroarts 2054548).
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Works on This Recording
Il matrimonio segreto by Domenico Cimarosa
Aldo Caputo (Tenor),
Alberto Rinaldi (Baritone),
Cinzia Forte (Soprano),
Damiana Pinti (Mezzo Soprano),
Pricille Laplace (Soprano),
Mario Cassi (Tenor)
Wallonie Royal Opera Orchestra
Written: 1792; Vienna, Austria
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