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Donizetti: La Figlia Del Reggimento / Campanella, Serra, Matteuzzi, Dara

Release Date: 02/22/2011 
Label:  Nuova Era   Catalog #: 233007   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Luciana SerraWalter BrighiIvan del MantoWilliam Matteuzzi,   ... 
Conductor:  Bruno Campanella
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale ChorusBologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 51 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DONIZETTI La figlia del reggimento Bruno Campanella, cond; Luciana Serra ( Maria ); William Matteuzzi ( Tonio ); Enzo Dara ( Sulpizio ); Monica Tagliasacchi ( Marchesa ); Mildela D’Amico ( Duchessa ); Bologna Teatro Communale O & Ch NUOVA ERA 233007 Read more (2 CDs: 111:11 ) Live: 1989

Ever since the famous Sutherland/Pavarotti recording, and lately with Diana Damrau, Natalie Dessay, and Juan Diego Flórez, we are used to seeing and hearing this opera in its French guise, La Fille du Régiment , but it is in the Italian version that the work gained most of its lasting popularity and in which most of the early recordings were made. The work was written for and premiered at the Paris Opéra Comique, where it found much success. La Fille was quickly turned into La figlia del reggimento and premiered in the same year, 1840, in Milan. We know Donizetti had a hand in this transformation, but he was summoned back to Paris to finish his contract there before the work on La figlia could be completed, so it is unknown how many of the changes were at his instigation, or if he even approved of them. Many critics believe the Italian version loses some of the Gallic charm along with the infelicities of verse matching to music the difference in language brings. The main changes are the addition of recitatives instead of spoken text, the removal of Tonio’s high-Cs cabaletta in act I and his aria in act II, and a new aria inserted for him (borrowed from Gianni di Calais ) at a different point in act I. Additionally, the act II finale becomes a duet for the two lovers instead of a reprise of Marie’s nationalistic “Salut à la France,” a number understandably less popular in Italy than in France.

Of course tenors who had the technique and the high notes were quick to reinsert the high-Cs cabaletta back into the Italian version, as is the case on this recording. Pavarotti went them one better and sang the same two arias for Tonio in both versions, as he does on a 1969 recording from Milan with Mirella Freni. I have heard only a recording from 1960 with Anna Moffo and Giuseppe Campora where the famous cabaletta is not sung. In fact, that recording seems to be basically the original La figlia del reggimento , although with cuts and with two singers who were miscast in bel canto roles.

The present recording from Nuova Era is a reissue by that company and the set has been reviewed twice before in Fanfare, once by Robert Levine in an early issue and again by Bob Rose in 30:1. I don’t have access to the Levine review but Rose calls this set the best Italian version on recordings, and he may be right, but it is certainly not without flaws. There are no studio versions of the full opera in Italian and only a very few in stereo, this being one of them. Even so, there is plenty of coughing, stage bumping and clomping, and receding and reappearing voices to remind you this is a live recording, and it can be somewhat annoying even with the truncated applause.

William Matteuzzi is the star of the show here. Along with Rockwell Blake he was a generation ahead of Flórez and one of the first modern-day tenors to really master the technique of bel canto singing. On this recording he lets out all the stops, with secure, ringing high notes, agile fioratura , and Rossinian embellishments. His voice can turn a bit nasal at odd times, but you find yourself waiting for him to come back on and sing something else. Enzo Dara and Monica Tagliasacchi also perform well in the less demanding roles of Sulpizio and the Marchesa di Berckenfield. I am less happy about the Maria of Luciana Serra, billed as a coloratura soprano; I find little evidence of it here. She sings all the notes, some good, some not so good, but she turns shrill when singing loud and high and makes little attempt to show off to advantage some of Donizetti’s most pyrotechnic music for soprano. The experienced Bruno Campanella is solid and invigorating in the pit and the actual sound of orchestra, chorus, and singers is quite good. I expect it matches up well with any other Italian set in this regard.

There is an Italian version of La figlia on Naxos with young, unknown singers that I have not heard but which was given a good review by David L. Kirk in Fanfare 30:4. It may very well be the equal or better of this recording, but for now, this one is a top choice. The booklet contains an interesting essay and plot summary in three languages along with an Italian-only libretto.

FANFARE: Bill White
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Works on This Recording

La fille du régiment by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Luciana Serra (Soprano), Walter Brighi (Tenor), Ivan del Manto (Spoken Vocals),
William Matteuzzi (Tenor), Enzo Dara (Bass), Giuseppe Musini (Bass),
Monica Tagliasacchi (Mezzo Soprano), Giancarlo Tosi (Bass), Mildela d'Amico (Soprano),
Paola Molinari (Piano)
Conductor:  Bruno Campanella
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1989 
Length: 112 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

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