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new-classics.co.uk, April 2020

…This original version of the opera presents both unknown music and significant differences from the revised version, giving its dramatic shape a distinctive new character. The cast includes Silvia Dalla Benetta as Bianca and Maxim Mironov as Gernando, with Luca Dall’Amico and Vittorio Prato. Antonino Fogliani conducts this beautiful music by one of the world’s greatest opera composers with flair, vigour and due seriousness. © 2020 new-classics.co.uk Read complete review



L’Ape musicale, March 2018

Antonino Fogliani, on the podium, relates to this material with a stylistic competence, strongly based on a vast and refined experience. The cast responds well: balanced, especially in the main roles, with very clear diction, musical and dramatic knowledge. © 2018 L’Ape musicale



Ken Meltzer
Fanfare, March 2018

…Mironov sings with breathtaking vocal beauty and sensitivity, and dispatches the florid writing and stratospheric high notes with ease. Mironov is also a fine vocal actor, and his Gernando emerges as more than a two-dimensional hero. This is bel canto tenor singing of the absolute highest order and on its own justifies purchase of this set. If Silvia Dalla Benetta is more challenged by Bellini’s score than is Mironov, she, too, sings with admirable beauty of tone, style, and assuredness. Vittoria Prato conveys Filippo’s malevolent character without ever betraying the parameters of taste required for this style of music. Luca Dall’Amico is a sympathetic and vocally assured Carlo. Conductor Antonino Fogliani leads the Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań, and Virtuosi Brunensis in a spirited and tautly executed performance. Both the reflective and more heroic moments receive their due. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review




Ralph Locke
American Record Guide, March 2018

How wonderful to encounter this world premiere Bellini recording, and the performance is also quite fine (sometimes astounding)!

None of the performers’ names was familiar to me. So I was delighted to discover the Russian high tenor Maxim Mironov. His tone is consistently firm, his pitch true. He handles florid passages with ease and always sounds engaged in the drama.

Silvia Dalla Benetta handles Bianca’s difficult part with aplomb, suiting her tone to a variety of situations. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, December 2017

Vittorio Prato as the evil Filippo sports a virile baritone voice with authority and brilliant top notes. Silvia Dalla Benetta as Bianca has an agreeable lyric soprano voice. Sometimes her vibrato is a little wider than ideally, but she is expressive and nuanced. But the real star of this performance is the excellent bel canto tenor Maxim Mironov. I have hailed him previously in recordings of Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims and Otello and his smooth, beautiful, nuanced and technically fluent singing throughout this performance is really great. His cavatina in the first act is met with ovations after a generously held final note and in the duet with Bianca in the second act (CD 2 tr. 6) he also demonstrates his dramatic abilities. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Robert Levine
ClassicsToday.com, October 2017

This a very good performance, recorded live at Bad Wildbad in July, 2016. It begins with a fine bass voice, that of Zong Shi as Clemente, a member of the court of the Duke, whose voice he thinks he hears. It’s a scene that sets the mood well. Gernando enters and sings of his fate and the palace, in an aria that flies often above high C. Tenor Maxim Mironov, a bel canto specialist whose Rossini roles are much admired, exhibits a slim, flexible voice with secure coloratura (there’s lots of Rossini-like writing in this opera) and stunning high notes, getting stronger as the opera progresses.

Silvia Dalla Benetta sings Bianca with naiveté at first, believing Filippo in her first aria, expressing even more love and innocence at the start of Act 2 in her lovely harp-and-woodwind-accompanied romanza, “Sorgi o padre”, in which she is joined by her confidante, Eloisa, sung nicely by mezzo Mar Campo. She and Gernando then sing a dazzling duet of recognition. An interlude brings us to Duke Carlo’s cell, where Luca Dall’Amica’s bass expresses the Duke’s misery before his kids arrive to rescue him in a rather quick ending.

Conductor Antonino Fogliani is totally sympathetic to style and singers, eliciting crisp playing from the Virtuosi Brunensis and building tension toward the scene in Carlo’s cell. The chorus can be a bit too enthusiastic at times, but the orchestra is remarkable. © 2017 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Raymond J Walker
MusicWeb International, September 2017

Bellini makes much of the part of Gernando as this principal character is on stage for most of the opera. …Gernando’s Act I cavatina demonstrates the bel canto singer’s need to deliver difficult staccato phrases with extremes of vocal register. This is sung without difficulty by the Russian high tenor, Maxim Mironov; he continues to shine throughout the opera and his diction is always clear.

Bianca, Gernando’s sister, is more fortunate in not being made to undertake the same amount of stage presence. She is played by Silvia Dalla Benetta, who is equally confident in her part and sings delightfully, delivering the passion expected of the rôle. Bellini excels in his writing for their charming duet, ‘No! mia suora’.

The tranquil Romanza, ‘Sorgi o padre’, is beautifully sung by Benetta and the sensitive contribution by Eloisa in its second verse (played by Mar Campo, mezzo) is lovely. We find that Filippo puts much energy into his Act II aria, sustaining momentum throughout the stirring piece. The support of other principals is strong and all work ideally as a team, particularly in the Seguito section of the Act I finale.

The Polish Camerata Bach choir is somewhat recessed yet give noticeably good support in the Introduzione, the powerful ‘Viva Bianca’ Act I finale and Allor, ‘che note avanza’. The fine orchestra is excellent under Antonio Fogliani and he provides a sensitive reading throughout. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2017

Such was the success of Adelson e Salvini composed for his fellow students in Naples, the young Bellini was asked to write a work for the great San Carlo theatre. He was just twenty-four at the time, and responded to such an opportunity with a highly charged and dramatic two act opera, Bianca e Fernando. The booklet, that comes with this new release, then rather confuses me, as I have always understood that its original name was only temporarily changed to Bianca e Gernando out of respect for the recent death of King Ferdinand. So what we have here is, I believe, Bellini’s original score of that 1826 opera, Bianca e Fernando, based on Carlo Roti’s drama Bianca e Fernando alla tomba di Carlo IV, Duca di Agrigento. It is a basic opera plot used in so many different guises where the ageing ruler was deposed by a usurper while his son is abroad, the pretender intending to marry the daughter of the former ruler to make his rule complete. Here it comes to a happy ending with the return of his disguised son with his many soldiers, thus saving both his incarcerated father and his sister. In this performance, the son, Fernando, is given the name Gernando. There was also a later revision premiered in 1828, but in this release of a concert performance at the 2016 ‘Rossini in Wildbad Festival’, we do return to the actual score used in 1826. Truth to tell, the opera’s neglect has probably done Bellini a favour, for it is couched in the operatic conventions of the previous era, and does not fit into his place as the begetter of the Italian Romantic era in opera. As is usual with this annual festival, the cast is largely a mix of Italian and East European singers, the imposing tenor, Maxim Mironov, taking the highly taxing role of Gernando, singing a massive and challenging aria not long after the opera begins. I am also taken by the baritone, Vittorio Prato, who sounds too pleasing for the nasty usurper, Filippo, and he too has a long aria when his voiced has hardly warmed. In the role of Bianca, the young coloratura, Silvia Dalla Benetta, does not make her first entry until the finale to the first act, and then she does not have a particularly rewarding aria. Heard to much better effect in the second act where she realises Gernando has come to save her from marrying Filippo. In the role of Clemente, the aid to Gernando, Zong Shi is a lightweight bass, while the other bass, Luca Dall’Amico, in the cameo role of the father, has problems with intonation in his recitative and brief aria. The chorus sing with suitable vigour, though I have heard the Virtuosi Brunensis in better form for the conductor, Antonino Fogliani. Pity they didn’t ask the audience not to applaud during acts, but let us be very grateful to Southwest German Radio for this recording of a rarity—whatever its name. © 2017 David’s Review Corner



Records International, August 2017

This, Bellini’s official operatic debut was known only in its revised version of Bianca e Fernando until this rediscovery and revival at Bad Wildbad in July 2016. Set in the ducal palace of Agrigento and with its tale of secretive plots and triumph over tyranny, this original version of the opera presents both unknown music and significant differences from the revised version, giving its dramatic shape a distinctive new character. © 2017 Records International





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