Thirty years ago, Mercadante's name was found only in history books. The past 20 years has seen increased interest, and now there are more than 90 CDs available featuring at least an aria or two or an instrumental piece. He composed more than 60 operas and by 1840 was more respected in Italy than Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. As Verdi became more popular, Mercadante turned more and more to instrumental music; contemporary reports suggest he was jealous of the younger composer.
His early works were very Rossinian, filled with showy vocal lines, crescendos, and so forth. In the early 1830s he began to "revolutionize" his style, paying more attention to the orchestra,Read more "banishing" trivial cabalettas, turning large ensembles into true ensembles, with no extended solos. This CD presents three of his songs--a light Tyrolean sweetly sung by William Matteuzzi, a dark, dramatic moment from a dying man sung with rich tone and feeling by Bruce Ford, and a coy, flirtatious ditty enchantingly embraced by soprano Yvonne Kenny, all with David Harper on piano--as well as excerpts from five operas.
The grandest is from the early Gabriella di Vergy, a sextet with a lovely slow start, a bridge, and then an exciting six-voiced, complex cabaletta; this last is then repeated with wild embellishments from all six singers. A trio for tenor, baritone, and bass (with chorus) from Orazi e Curiazi is a dark oath, with noodling clarinet figures to set the mood. A somber prayer from Emma d'Antiochia could be by Bellini and is nicely etched by Nelly Miricioiu; a big aria for tenor (with bass and chorus) from Virginia, Mercadante's last opera, begins in a distinctly Verdian, dramatically exclaimed fashion but ends in a jolly-jaunty cabaletta, seemingly just the type the composer was supposed to have eschewed. There's a trio and a duet from Zaire, both beautiful and both featuring the lovely Majella Cullagh and heroic, stylish Bruce Ford (with Alastair Miles). Miricioiu and baritone Anthony Michaels-Moore end the CD with a rousing, highly dramatic confrontational duet and lento aria finale with chorus from Orazi e Curiazi.
As suggested, this CD is filled with wonderful singing of music by a fascinating and undeservedly overlooked composer. The accompaniments are superb, the sonics are ideal. Precisely why Opera Rara chose to leave out texts and translations for such rare material is a mystery (although as always they include intelligent notes and synopses)--but there's no mystery about the fact that this is a terrific CD.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Emma d'Antiochia: Excerpt(s)by Saverio Mercadante Performer:
Nelly Miricioiu (Soprano),
Bruce Ford (Tenor),
Yvonne Kenny (Soprano),
Alastair Miles (Bass),
Majella Cullagh (Soprano)
Period: Romantic Written: by 1834; Milan, Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
The severely neglected MercadanteJuly 1, 2014By Dr. Stephen Schoeman (Westfield, NJ)See All My Reviews"Servio Mercadante a contemporary of Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi is a severely neglected composers of opera, concerti, and religious music. He was an influence on the early Verdi. Indeed you would think, if you did not know the composer, that you were listening to an opera by Verdi or Rossini! His clarinet music is sublime, the match of Mozart! And his flute music is also of the highest order. Sadly, Verdi would eclipse his fame as Bach would his contemporaries and Haydn and Beethoven theirs. Run, don't walk, and purchase recordings of the music of Mercadante. Sheer pleasure! Dr. Stephen Schoeman"Report Abuse
Discovery of the year for meSeptember 28, 2012By Anthony G. (SANTA FE, NM)See All My Reviews"I am a consummate opera lover and this recording has been my star acquisition for 2012. I don't imagine it to be easily surpassed in the coming years. Why Mercadante's work is not performed more often on stage and in recital is quite beyond me. He is the equal of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini and exceeds them frequently."Report Abuse