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Henry Fogel
Fanfare, July 2017

MERCADANTE, S.: Francesca da Rimini [Opera] (Bonilla, Aya Wakizono, Sungu, Matteo, Martinez, Rivas, Cluj-Napoca Philharmonic, Luisi) CDS7753.03
MERCADANTE, S.: Francesca da Rimini [Opera] (Festival della Valle d'Itria, 2016) (NTSC) DYN-37753

Bonilla seems already to be a finished artist—and what an artist! At this stage in her career she doesn’t possess quite the richness of color we came to love in Montserrat Caballé, …Bonilla exhibits a bit more vocal discipline than Gencer and isn’t quite as willing to throw caution to the winds, but this is singing with a huge presence from a voice that announces itself as important from her first utterance. Anyone interested in opera will want to experience it. Add to the singing Bonilla’s attractive stage appearance and dramatic presence, and it’s hard to imagine anything standing in the way of a major career.

Tenor Merto Sungu, as Francesca’s evil husband, sings beautifully at soft and middle dynamic levels, phrasing with musicality and sensitivity. At louder dynamics he tends to force and the voice hardens, but still Sungu’s performance is very satisfying. Antonio Di Matteo’s focused, dark basso is perfect for the role of Guido, Francsca’s father, and Larisa Martinez sings beautifully in the smaller role of Isaura. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review




Robert Levine
ClassicsToday.com, June 2017

Leonor Bonilla presents a lovely Francesca, both innocent and knowing, and she sings her florid music as cleanly and clearly as she does the more lyrical moments. Fearless of heights, her (sometimes) interpolated high notes are not an interruption; her pianissimos are expert. Paolo, the trouser role, is artfully portrayed by Japanese mezzo Aya Wakizono. The voice is warm and agile, her diction superb. Together the pair make much of their duets.

Turkish tenor Merto Sungu, as Lanciotto, the cuckolded fiancé, has more to sing than the others, and he gives it a good shot. The voice itself is attractive, but the technique is unsure; high notes are poorly approached and executed, and while his vocal flexibility and emotional response are admirable, one senses the effort.

Orchestra and chorus are fine under the terrific Fabio Luisi, who nonetheless sounds a bit careful with the score and singers. © 2017 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Richard Lawrence
Gramophone, May 2017

MERCADANTE, S.: Francesca da Rimini [Opera] (Bonilla, Aya Wakizono, Sungu, Matteo, Martinez, Rivas, Cluj-Napoca Philharmonic, Luisi) CDS7753.03
MERCADANTE, S.: Francesca da Rimini [Opera] (Festival della Valle d'Itria, 2016) (NTSC) DYN-37753
MERCADANTE, S.: Francesca da Rimini [Opera] (Festival della Valle d'Itria, 2016) (Blu-ray, HD) DYN-57753

…Fabio Luisi gets excellent playing from his orchestra warm, tender strings in the Act 1 finale, fine obbligatos and the chorus sings lustily. And the solo singing is stupendous. Merto Sungu is thrilling, Leonor Bonilla sings with bell-like clarity, with good coloratura and trills, and the Japanese Aya Wakizono is a mezzo in a thousand. If you want to hear bel canto magnificently performed by singers you have probably never heard of, go out and buy the discs right now. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Ralph Moore
MusicWeb International, April 2017

The young cast here deserve high praise not only for their sheer technical skill but also for successfully lending great emotional impact to their creation of roles never previously sung. All three main singers are certainly impressive in their command of the fearful demands Mercadante places upon his singers. Spanish lyric soprano Leonor Bonilla is especially striking: she has a light, pure, agile voice just occasionally inclined to shrillness in alt—but capable of a powerful high E and real pathos in her characterisation. …Japanese mezzo-soprano Aya Wakizono is also something of a find. Even if occasionally her vibrato becomes too broad she is otherwise endowed with a warm, flexible voice capable of negotiating the most fearsome coloratura challenges with aplomb. Greater maturity and experience will permit her to bring more variety of tonal colour to her singing but she already has formidable vocal technique. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review





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