, April 2012
Generalities are usually unsatisfactory. However one or two can be made usefully about the standard of singing. The diction of all is admirable. They keep an excellent musical line well focused on word and phrase at all times. They are totally involved in the opera plot whether singing, watching or re-acting to another. Heart and soul are put into their roles.
Marina Comparato, in the title role, has not the strongest voice, particularly in her lower register, but this is more than made up for in splendidly clear mid-note hitting, comfortable trills and confidant runs. Her first aria is of conventional length but her two later ones, sadly, are less the two minutes each.
Annamaria dell’Oste (Farnese, the part written for Caffarelli) has the highlights, with arias closing Acts 1 and 2. Lieto così tal volta (DVD1, tr.19) concluding Act 1 is accompanied by an oboe obbligato and pizzicato strings. Strong runs, impressive sound in her upper reaches and crystal clear notes distinguish this performance. With the oboe player placed at the side of the stage, the interaction of musical phrases between oboe and voice is absorbing.
Lucia Cirillo (Emirena) brings a warm tone with a soupçon of cream. She needs her telling facial expressions to accompany her character, pushed from Farnaspe to Adriano and back again with a hell-raising father. Good acting, expressive recitatives, coloured low notes and delightful diminuendo, mark a distinguished performance. Her voice and that of dell’Oste balance so well in the only duet.
Nicole Heaston (Sabina) earns the strongest audience applause for her aria Chi soffre senza planto (DVD1 tr.12). Rejected by Adriano, manipulated by Aquilio, she needs that acting and vocal versatility so well shown here. Great breath control for some deliciously long-held ringingly clear high notes which she can send floating around the auditorium; all that with excellent coloratura, of the non-firework variety, but no less satisfying for that.
Whilst not having quite the heft to power out his arias, Stefano Ferrari (Osroa), as the attempted havoc-wreaking Parthian, is a convincing character. Determined delivery with cogent stage movement, a timbre that is easy on the ear with some light colouring enrich his performance.
Two rousing arias for Aquilio are seized by Francesca Lombardi which she makes very much her own. Strong across all her register with vocal leaps to mid-note, energetic delivery and packed emotion.
I wish that I could muster the same enthusiasm for the intermezzo. For me the parody has lost much of its effect with the theatrical changes over the centuries. Livietta, cross dressed as a Frenchman, seeks revenge on petty thief Tracollo, cross-dressed as a pregnant woman. Livietta rejects Tracollo’s marriage offer. In the second part, Tracollo is disguised as an astrologer, a disguise that Livietta sees through. After more posturing, they reconcile. The music is ‘pure Pergolesi’, fresh, vibrant and tuneful: the singing and acting persuasive. The more experienced Monica Bacelli as Livietta and Carlo Lepore as Tracollo are on fine form. Lepore’s first act aria Ecco il povero Tracollo (DVD1 tr.27) shows his voice to good effect: not overwhelming but a deep colour over a wide register. Bacelli’s opening aria Vi sto ben (DVD1 tr.21) is sung with a fresh vibrancy. She brings a smooth tone, some gentle colouring and a deep sense of comic timing. Their duets are classic of this genre.
…excellently paced with a crisp, cogent, expressive Accademia. The intermezzo needs no set—it runs front of curtain, down the auditorium centre aisle and in and around the orchestra pit. That for the opera is a neat layout of ‘stones’ facilitating characters to overhear, or hide from, events front of stage. The prison is neatly depicted by descending curtains of chains. There is some obvious symbolism with a caged canary and a free flying raptor. As you can see from the cover above that the Romans are conventionally garbed. The Parthians are in muted colours. All very satisfactory and captured by effective camera work.
The performance is all and on this DVD it is benchmark standard. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review