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Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur / Palumbo, Carosi, Alvarez, Cornetti, Antoniozzi

Cilea / Carosi / Alvarez / Torina / Palumbo
Release Date: 06/28/2011 
Label:  Dynamic   Catalog #: 628/1-2  
Composer:  Francesco Cilča
Performer:  Antonella De ChiaraMarianne CornettiMarcelo AlvarezMicaela Carosi,   ... 
Conductor:  Renato Palumbo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turin Teatro Regio ChorusTurin Teatro Regio Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CILEA Adriana Lecouvreur Renato Palumbo, cond; Micaela Carosi ( Adriana ); Marcelo Álvarez ( Maurizio ); Marianne Cornetti ( Princess ); Alfonso Antoniozzi ( Michonnet ); Simone del Savio ( Prince ); Luca Casalin ( Abbé ); Teatro Regio Torino O Read more & Ch DYNAMIC CDS 628/1-2 (2 CDs: 141:44) Live: Turin 7/2009

Francesco Cilea was one of several verismo opera era one-hit wonders, and Adriana Lecouvreur is his one. The story of the opera, based loosely on a famous actress and events surrounding her in early 18th-century Paris, makes for better drama than history. The Parisian actress actually died of dysentery rather than from poisoned flowers sent by her rival in love, but dysentery makes for a much less dramatic finale. Even consumption seems to work better if it has to be a disease. It is unusual to see a new recording of Adriana ; the work hangs only by its fingertips on the edge of the standard repertoire and performances are rare, although the Met has a production it rotates through every so often. This release comes from a production broadcast live from Turin in 2009 and was issued previously in DVD format.

It works just as well on audio disc; the singing is generally good, sound is excellent, and the Teatro Regio Orchestra brings out many of the colors and nuances in Cilea’s well-conceived score. The lead role of Adriana demands some vocal heft but lies fairly low in the soprano range; it is often a vehicle for aging divas with diminished ability to sing high. Not the case here; Italian soprano Micaela Carosi is still in her vocal prime with a big voice and a secure top. She starts out a bit slowly in “Io son l’umile ancella,” which is a shame since it is the big hit of the show, but quickly finds her pace and sings excellently thereafter. Tenor Marcelo Álvarez, who plays the dashing young nobleman Maurizio, is the real star of this production, singing with consistent vocal beauty in ringing Italianate voice. If Álvarez milks the crowd a bit with emotive displays, he is amply rewarded with the biggest ovation of the performance in his act II aria. Mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti starts out very poorly in her act II aria “Vagabonda stella,” approaching painful to listen to, but seems to warm up and sing better after that. The stage director, Michonnet, is sung well by Alfonso Antoniozzi, and the smaller roles are also performed solidly.

As for the competition, James Levine leads the Philharmonia Orchestra in a 1978 studio set that features Renata Scotto and Plácido Domingo in superior performances. An earlier studio set brings Renata Tebaldi’s rich spinto voice to the title role, and a live set from 1959 features Franco Corelli, not singing very subtly but in great voice, paired with Magda Olivero, one of the great stylists to play Adriana, and one applauded by the composer himself.

The Dynamic booklet contains a short essay and synopsis in four languages; a libretto is available with English translation on the website. The Turin forces turn in a solid, well-sung performance of the opera here, with one or two disappointing patches. The set is certainly more idiomatically Italian than the Levine recording, but does not displace it at the top of a rather small heap. Recommended.

FANFARE: Bill White
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Works on This Recording

Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilča
Performer:  Antonella De Chiara (Voice), Marianne Cornetti (Mezzo Soprano), Marcelo Alvarez (Tenor),
Micaela Carosi (Soprano), Alfonso Antoniozzi (Baritone), Luca Casalin (Tenor),
Simone Del Savio (Voice)
Conductor:  Renato Palumbo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus,  Turin Teatro Regio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; Italy 

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