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Bizet: Don Procopio / Talpain, Zoladkiewicz, Kaminska, Et Al

Release Date: 09/30/2003 
Label:  Dynamic   Catalog #: 415   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Georges Bizet
Performer:  Witold ZoladkiewiczGabriela KaminskaIwona KowalkowskaOlivier Heyte,   ... 
Conductor:  Didier Talpain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Chamber Opera OrchestraWarsaw Chamber Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This delightful, hour-long comic opera was finished by Bizet in 1859, but it wasn't produced until 1906 (in Monte Carlo). Extra bits--recitatives, an additional aria, etc.--were inserted by someone else, which is somewhat understandable because there are no connective passages between numbers either in dialogue or recitative form. But for a recording, the musical numbers are enough, and they're quite entertaining. Composed to an Italian libretto, this is unquestionably an Italian opera--fans of Rossini and Donizetti will be pleased. Even the plot--a young soprano girl in love with a tenor wheedles her way out of marrying an ugly, old, miserly basso suitor--is familiar from many Italian works of the half-century preceding this opera.
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The work is filled with interesting ensembles (there are only two arias)--three duets, two trios, and two larger ensembles. If the plot of Don Pasquale comes to mind, well, it also does in the music itself. A charming tenor serenade is reminiscent of "Com'e gentil", and a bit later a duo for soprano and tenor is undeniably like "Tornami a dir". But I'm more inclined to think that the imitation is more generic than that; it's just Bizet's Italian--and more specifically, "bel canto"--opera. Other niceties abound: a lively soprano/bass duet, for instance, is chock-filled with coloratura for the soprano and patter for the bass.

This live performance (there is applause only following one duet, otherwise there's no sign of the audience) is terrific. You might argue that the lead soprano, Gabriela Kaminska, has a somewhat hard edge to her voice, or that her tenor lover, Wojciech Parchelm, can sound a bit flimsy; but any weaknesses they have are far outweighed by their superb training and musicality, excellent ensemble work, and all-around excellence. The other singers sing and act their roles with true theatrical flair and right-on singing. Didier Talpain leads with endless verve and good humor and his Warsavian chorus and orchestra play and sing like champions. The sound is very good. This is more than a curiosity, and it is highly recommended.

--Robert Levine
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Works on This Recording

Don Procopio by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Witold Zoladkiewicz (Baritone), Gabriela Kaminska (Soprano), Iwona Kowalkowska (Soprano),
Olivier Heyte (Baritone), Pierre-Yves Pruvot (Baritone), Wojciech Parchelm (Tenor),
Bogdan Sliwa (Baritone)
Conductor:  Didier Talpain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Chamber Opera Orchestra,  Warsaw Chamber Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858-1859; France 

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