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Patrick Dillon
Opera News, September 2017

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

As Francesca, Spanish soprano Leonor Bonilla reveals a lovely, expressive lyric soprano and a face and manner to match. She even, without embarrassing herself, executes a little dance of her own to introduce her Act I scena. Japan’s Aya Wakizono, badly costumed by Pizzi, makes a singularly unconvincing-looking leading man, but her dark, throbbing mezzo and technical acuity earn high marks for her Paolo. Apart from some thready top notes, Turkish tenor Merto Sungu sings a handsome, stylish Lanciotto and delivers the text with uncommon relish. Denied an aria of his own, Italian basso Antonio Di Matteo contributes strongly to the ensembles as the heroine’s protective papa. They all prove worthy of a Mercadante prima, even as Pizzi’s windy vision earns him at least a short spell in Purgatory. © 2017 Opera News Read complete review



Richard Kraus
MusicWeb International, July 2017

An excellent cast brings out the best in Mercadante’s work. Leonor Bonilla as Francesca sings in a bright, clear, and very agile voice. She also dances quite gracefully in Act I. As her husband, Lanciotto, Merto Sungu, is appropriately heroic, anguished, and vengeful. Sungu’s opening aria presents a hero before his fall, and his intelligent ornamentation reassures one that this is not simply generic bel canto. Aya Wakizono sings the trousers role of Paolo, Francesca’s lover. She has a creamy mezzo, and was for me the most exciting member of the cast. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



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



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



Michael Schulman
The WholeNote, April 2017

There’s some lovely music here, particularly Francesca’s Act One aria recalling past pleasures, and her love duet with Paolo, both episodes enhanced by prominent harp arpeggios. Soprano Leonor Bonilla (Francesca), mezzo Aya Wazikono (Paolo) and tenor Merto Süngü (Lanciotto) are dramatically convincing while negotiating the score’s coloratura demands. Bass Antonio Di Matteo adds forceful stature as Guido. © 2017 The WholeNote Read complete review





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