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John Terauds
Toronto Star, September 2009

…the plot of Mascagni’s only French-language opera is pure peasant-verismo, as two brothers fall for the same woman, Amica. Alessio Pizzech’s staging is absolutely traditional. The pastoral overture—the first thing you hear are cowbells—is mesmerizing, and beautifully performed by the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia led by Manlio Benzi. Soprano Anna Malavasi is riveting in her vocal and dramatic power as Amica. Tenor David Sotgiu is excellent as her main suitor. After a shaky start, the Slovak Chamber Choir is fine as the peasant chorus…

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2009

Most probably the only time you will ever see Pietro Mascagni’s Amica, the composer whose reputation now resides in just one short opera, Cavalleria Rusticana. In fact the year following Cavalleria he did write one other minor and charming masterpiece, L’Amico Fritz, though in truth after these two he was never again able to find arias that burn into the memory. Yet in Amica there are all the ingredients required, and throughout you feel a big aria is about to burst forth, but it never happens. So we have to be satisfied with his craftsmanship and his use of orchestral colours to put musical flesh on a trivial story of two brothers who fall in love with the same young woman, Amica, though neither realises the fact. Her eventual suicide ending a totally unbelievable story, especially as both brothers let it happen. In two acts, it lasts for little over eighty minutes, and uses just five solo singers and a small chorus. Originally in French for its first performance in Monte Carlo, it is in that version used for this ‘live’ performance. It was made in August 2007 at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy, in what would appear to be an open-air venue. It does have the disadvantage of a wooden stage that defies anyone to walk quietly around. The ‘no frills’ production sets the time somewhere towards the end of the 19th century, the scenery quite basic and unable to supply the waterfall which brings Amica’s death. The singers are young and give us the opportunity of hearing a fine tenor in David Sotgiu, a one-time pupil of the legendary tenor, Carlo Bergonzi. The part of Amica is taken by the petite, Anna Malavasi, a soprano that can pack plenty of punch, while the other brother, Rinaldo, finds the baritone, Pierluigi Dilengite, in good voice. Unusual in opera recordings to find that the recorded balance favours the orchestra, who play with a real sense of feeling for Mascagni’s style of composing. The film cameras stand well back from the stage for much of the time, only going in close for a few special solo moments. It’s visual quality is pleasing, and projects colours well, and there is the usual provision of subtitles.

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