Any opera that begins with three crashes, a very loud cock-crow, a chorus shouting in fake-Chinese and then launches into a vehement unaccompanied solo for Tito Gobbi has clearly got something going for it.
Hokum, but any opera that begins with three crashes, a very loud cock-crow, a chorus shouting in fake-Chinese and then launches into a vehement unaccompanied solo for Tito Gobbi has clearly got something going for it. So, if it comes to that, has any opera that ends with the villain (Gobbi, of course) being strangled with his own pigtail. And between? Well, there's abundant evidence that Franco Leoni was a contemporary of Puccini and, like him, a pupil of Ponchielli. Not as good as Puccini, mind, not nearly, but notRead more to be contemptuously dismissed, either. Yes, L'Oracolo is often crude, often tawdry, but Leoni knew enough about voices to give them long and singable lines that Gobbi, Davies and Sutherland are properly grateful for. He knows, too, that simple effects are often more direct than lavish ones. When Sutherland's heroine, desired by the evil Cim-Fen, discovers that he has murdered the young man she loves, her lament has an underlying simplicity (and it is, besides, accompanied by beautiful divided strings) that ... well, I can't quite paraphrase Shakespeare's Hippolyta and exclaim "Beshrew my heart, but I pity the woman!", but nor can I snigger at her patronizingly.
It is an excellent performance, the chorus obviously rather enjoying all that gibberish they have to sing ("Wufet; tanhae fulu; samciau, ha ha ha!"), and Gobbi, in only slightly worn voice, can make even "Hai-la!" sound by turns malign and sinisterly jovial. Davies is in admirably Italianate voice and Sutherland's control of vocal colour gives a trace of reality even to the paper-thin role of Ah-Joe (pronounced "Ah-Yoeh", thank goodness). Lively conducting, a decent sense of stage atmosphere and a clean, unexaggerated recording.
L'Oracoloby Franco Leoni Performer:
Ian Caley (Tenor),
Clifford Grant (Bass),
Huguette Tourangeau (Mezzo Soprano),
Richard Van Allan (Bass),
Ryland Davies (Tenor),
Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano),
Tito Gobbi (Baritone)
John Alldis Choir,
Finchley Children's Music Group,
National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1905
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Verismo Gem!September 9, 2014By Thomas M. (Bogota, NJ)See All My Reviews"I had never heard any of Leoni's music before, so I didn't know what to expect. I was very happy with what I heard. The plot is perhaps overly-dramatic, but this is verismo after all. It may be considered racist by our PC standards, but stereotypes were usually formed out of ignorance rather than malice, and that is the case here. The music, however, is beautiful. Leoni is a master of the musical expression of emotion, whether depicting the gentle, faithful devotion of the young lovers; the vindictiveness and conniving of the villain; the fear and apprehension of the heroine's father; or the cold-blooded rage of the hero's father. Leoni is not Puccini, but who is? "L'Oracolo" is not "Madama Butterfly", but it's not bad either. Recommended to all devotees of blood and guts verismo."Report Abuse
Wonderful off beat Opera.October 23, 2012By Keith Messersmith (Ashland, PA)See All My Reviews"This happens to be a wonderful recording of a forgotten verismo opera. We have to thank Richard Bonynge for rescuing this opera for I believe he found the score in an old book store in San Fransisco and was so impressed with it that he talked London records into recording it with his wife Joan Sutherland. Some critics have carped that it is warmed up leftover Puccini, but give it a chance and I believe it will work it's magic on you. At a little over an hour in length, everyone should try it. The ending is so beautiful, that I get chills everytime I hear it. So to Mr. Bonynge I say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. I am so glad I discovered it. The Met, take notice, it's time for a revival, perhaps paired with Massenet's La Navaraise?"Report Abuse