Notes and Editorial Reviews
Warcis?aw Kunc, cond; Boguslaw Bidzi?ski (
); Iwona Socha (
); Leszek Skrla (
); Micha? Partyka (
); Janusz Lewandowski (
); Zamku Op O/Ch
DUX 9736 (55:38
1858 was a good year for Moniuszko. His 1847 opera,
, was finally staged in Warsaw, to great public and critical acclaim. Later that year he was appointed director of the Warsaw Opera itself (which helped the perpetually impoverished composer, his wife, and family of 10 children), and received a commission from a musical theater to compose a one-act work. This was to become
: a rural comedy of character, set on the banks of the Vistula, and dealing with the complications that arise when a well-meaning fisherman gives his daughter’s hand to a pushy young hairdresser, rather than her raftsman lover. Again, all were delighted were the result, as well they should have been.
is remarkably tuneful. There is scarcely a number that isn’t memorable in the score, from Zosia’s gently despairing dumka, “Ach ty? mo?e,” to Jakub’s loquacious patter aria, “Ach nie mów tego Zosiu mi?a,” idealizing the life Zosia will have if she marries him, to the bittersweet lines near the start of the finale in which Franek takes what he believes will be final leave of his beloved Zosia, leading into an elaborate ensemble.
Yet it is a subtle score as well, in which the quality and quantity of thematic material, and the frequent dance-like rhythms, hide ever so much. There’s Moniuszko’s inspired handling of
, as a means of advancing action during a few duets and choruses—such as the scene for Szótak and Jakub leading up to the latter’s delightfully self-satisfied, Donizetti-like arietta (“Jestem fryzjer!”) about the power that accrues in sophisticated society to a fashionable hairdresser. The composer also employs internal rhythmic variety within extended numbers to achieve a more fluid structure, including a flowing pair of 6/8 “serenade” lines beginning with “Tyle zawodu serce” in his Zosia-Franek duet, sandwiched within a pair of headlong 3/4 sections. There are also a few distinctive orchestral touches: the Weber-like clarinet solo in the overture’s slow first half, or the simple but striking folklike deployment of the brass playing a repeated unison G over a held unison C bass at the start of the drinking song, “Oj przybywaj m?ody flisie.”
The performances are those one might expect to encounter at a good regional opera house. Iwona Socha delivers an intrinsically sweet, light lyric soprano that she deploys with little sense of theater or attention to dynamics. Boguslaw Bidzi?ski sounds decidedly uncomfortable around the break, and not much happier above it, but he hits all the notes, perceives the drama implicit in his lines, and has a good sense of
phrasing as occasionally required in the score. Leszek Skrla is effective though wasted in the lesser role of Antoni, while Janusz Lewandowski is accurate and characterful as Szótak, if more comfortable in the lower reaches of the part. Micha? Partyka is equally insightful as Jakub. He occasionally slights note values or presses his vibrato, but always colors his voice in such a way as to expressively deliver the words he sings. Warcis?aw Kunc’s tempos are on the fast side, but flexible, with plenty of energy and good discipline from the Zamku Opera Orchestra. The chorus is competent.
Sound is good, and a decent if very generalized essay is provided. Along with the original Polish, translations are offered in English, Italian, and German. This one is nowhere near as bad as that recently issued with the composer’s
, though the
English translation is usually awkward, and occasionally risible. If these opera productions are meant to furnish a standard for Moniuszko on CD, as appears to be the case, the producers should engage a good linguist to devise both accurate and idiomatic librettos. They owe no less to their extremely talented countryman.
Moniuszko was certainly more than capable of writing extended operas, and there’s an excellent
out there on EMI 5 57489 2 that would strongly repay interest. But if you want to try something shorter to sample his wares, you can’t go wrong with
. It’s a charmer.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Works on This Recording
Flis by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Michal Partyka (Voice),
Iwona Socha (Voice),
Boguslaw Bidzinski (Tenor),
Leszek Skrla (Voice),
Janusz Lewandowski (Voice)
Zamku Opera Orchestra,
Zamku Opera Chorus
Date of Recording: 09/2009
Venue: Castle Opera, Szczecin, Poland
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