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Donizetti: Emilia Di Liverpool / Pritchard, Sutherland, Mcalpine, Et Al


Release Date: 09/25/2007 
Label:  Myto Records   Catalog #: 135   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan SutherlandWilliam McalpineHarvey Alan
Conductor:  John Pritchard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



DONIZETTI Emilia di Liverpool John Pritchard, cond; Joan Sutherland ( Emilia ); William McAlpine ( Colonello Tompson ); Hervey Alan ( Conte Asdrubale ); Denis Dowling ( Claudio ); April Cantelo ( Bettina ); Royal Liverpool PO & Ch MYTO 135, mono (CD Read more 48:03) Live: Liverpool 1957


This album is a souvenir. Donizetti’s rather unknown opera was presented by the Liverpool Music Group as part of the celebrations honoring the 750th anniversary of King John granting a charter to the city. Three months later a shortened version of the opera, with a different cast and a better-known conductor, was broadcast on the BBC. According to the liner notes, Joan Sutherland began her recording career singing Emilia’s final rondo on a 45-rpm disc. This CD is ideal for collectors of operatic rarities and folks who want every note Joan Sutherland recorded.


Emilia di Liverpool first appeared in 1824 when Donizetti was 26 years old. It was Donizetti’s 12th opera to be staged, and was not to be counted as one of his early successes. He revised the work, turning a comic opera into a melodrama semi-serio work, and changed the title. In 1828 it reappeared as L’eremitaggio di Liverpool. Once again Donizetti did not have a big hit on his hands. That’s not to say that there isn’t enjoyable music in the score. It may not be L’elisir d’amore , but it’s not rubbish either. Early in his career Donizetti was strongly influenced by Rossini, and that influence is evident in this opera.


Part of the humor is unintentional and represents an Italian ignorance of England’s geography. The location is an Alpine landscape just outside of Liverpool near London. The cast includes “Liverpool mountaineers” and their attendants, and all have adventures that are risible, at best. The booklet offers some additional humor. The Liverpool Music Group had been searching for a suitable musical event for their part in the anniversary festivities when this opera was discovered. Liverpool seemed an unlikely location for an Italian opera, which led to speculation: could there also be a Lucia di Huddersfield¸ or an Agnese di Brixton, or a Helmutine di Oggersheim awaiting discovery? Actually, there had been an earlier opera (1817) by Vittorio Trento titled Emilia di Laverpaut , which had a libretto based on German sources.


The BBC presentation includes 13 items from act I and four from the second act. Sir Bernard Miles offers a brief non-singing remark, in a melodramatic voice, midway through the first track: “The opera you are going to hear is a tale of passion, intrigue, and high drama set on a mountain top just outside Liverpool.” The recording is monophonic, but the sound is surprisingly good.


Opera Rara recorded both versions of the opera and combined them into one three-disc album (Opera Rara 8). It is in stereo and the libretto contains a lengthy discussion of the opera’s history. If you collect obscure operas, I’d recommend the Opera Rara. If you want an early Joan Sutherland recording, this may be a valuable addition to your collection. If you’re familiar with the many Decca recordings made later in her career, the sweetness and clarity of Sutherland’s voice on this disc may come as a surprise.


FANFARE: David L. Kirk
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Works on This Recording

1.
Emilia di Liverpool by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano), William Mcalpine (Tenor), Harvey Alan (Bass)
Conductor:  John Pritchard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Italy 
Date of Recording: 9/8/1957 
Venue:  Live 
2.
Emilia di Liverpool: Ah, Dì contento by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Pritchard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/08/1957 
3.
Emilia di Liverpool: Excerpt(s) by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Pritchard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/08/1957 

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