WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Bellini: Il Pirata / Gavazzeni, Caballe, Marti

Release Date: 10/05/1999 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 67121   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Giuseppe BarattiBernabé MartiMontserrat CaballéFlora Raffanelli,   ... 
Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra RomeItalian Radio Chorus Rome
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 22 Mins. 

This title is currently unavailable.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Andrew Porter, reviewing this for GRAMOPHONE in 1971, wrote of it as "a set that must be acquired both by voice-lovers and (not that the two terms are necessarily exclusive) by musiclovers". All three points can be reiterated, though some caveats might be added. First, the parenthesis. It is good to see that the offensive term 'canary-fancier' is dropping out of usage, where in the 1970s it still might have been applied in reference to the appeal of such an opera as this. Then the attraction to 'voice-lovers', that is to lovers of singing, which in turn means the application of the singing-voice to musical texts: the recording helped to convince listeners, 20 years ago, that these so-called bel canto operas could find modern Read more singers to make a performance possible, and that modern times could also throw up a prima donna worthy of the tradition we understand to have flourished in the nineteenth century. The third point concerns the music itself. As AP mentioned, there is a good deal of Rossini in it, not surprisingly so, as six of Rossini's operas were performed at La Scala in the season of 1827 when 11 pirata had its premiere. There are also passages of considerable beauty and power that are entirely characteristic of their composer: the duets of Imogene with Gualtiero ("Pietosa il padre") and with Ernesto ("Tu m'apristi"), the trio "Cedo al destin orribile" and the final scene, which goes under the generic title 'mad', are all excellent examples.

The caveats to some extent concern our appreciation of the score. Though AP (this time in the insert-notes, rather than in his review) wrote that "nothing is carelessly composed", I think it has to be conceded that (bar-by-bar) some weak repetitions, symmetrical fill-ins, complacent harmonies, tonic-dominant codas and so forth necessarily modify the admiration aroused by the 26-year-old composer's work. Vocally, too, the undoubted distinction of the performance needs some further qualifying. Caballê is in many respects at the height of her powers. Yet even by this time her singing has acquired a characteristic which, though I cannot recall having seen it remarked upon, nevertheless is surely a pervasive flaw. Just what the technical name for it would be I do not know, but I will call it a glottal punctuation of the tone, frequently occurring on consonants, as in the word "tempesta" shortly after Imogene's entrance. It is a habit of production that I once thought an acceptable, even an impressive, part of 'the grand manner', but it now seems to me the sort of thing we would consider ludicrous if a singer in our own native language were to indulge in it. Among the men, Raimondi is indeed impressive in the opening scene, but Cappuccilli, steady and solid as he is, lacks lustre both of timbre and temperament, and Bernabe Marti, coping heroically with his challenging role, produces a rather throaty tone and sings rarely below a forte.

This now gets the fault-finding out of balance. To restore perspective, let me repeat that the welcome given to the original applies just as well to its reissue, that the opera is a vigorous and often beautiful piece of writing, that Caballe is at her finest and Gavazzeni an inspired conductor.

-- Gramophone [2/1993]
Read less

Works on This Recording

Il pirata by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Giuseppe Baratti (Tenor), Bernabé Marti (Tenor), Montserrat Caballé (Soprano),
Flora Raffanelli (Soprano), Ruggero Raimondi (Bass), Piero Cappuccilli (Baritone)
Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  Italian Radio Chorus Rome
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Italy 
Date of Recording: 07/1970 
Venue:  RAI Studios, Rome, Italy 
Length: 142 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 A great and neglected opera. November 11, 2018 By T Price Zimmermann (Huntersville, NC) See All My Reviews "A splendid performance by Montserrat Caballe" Report Abuse
 First purchase from ArkivMusic May 22, 2012 By Peter B. See All My Reviews "I had heard the opera Il Pirata on the radio, but couldn't find cd's of it anywhere except at ArkivMusic. I was initially suspect of what the quality might be, but the price was reasonable enough to take the risk. The performances are exceptional, and the recording is of the same quality as if produced from the initial tapes. I certainly will purchase cd's from ArkivMusic again." Report Abuse
Review This Title