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Gaetano Donizetti: Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo
Simone Alberghini (Cardenio), Cinzia Forte (Eleanora), Filippo Morace (Kaidamà), Francesco Marsiglia (Fernando), Marianna Vinci (Marcella), Leonardo Galeazzi (Bartolomeo), Bergamo Music Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Fabio Tartari (Chorus Master), Giovanni Di Stefano (Conductor), Francesco Esposito (Stage Director), Maria Cerveira (Choreographer and Assistant Stage Director), Emanuele Luzzati (Original Set Designer), Michele Olcese (Set Designer), Santuzza Calì (Costume Designer), Bruno Ciulli (Lighting Designer)
Live recording: Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo, Italy (October 2013) – 125’
Bongiovanni AB 20033 – Format 16:9 – Stereo PCM – Region Code: 0 – Booklet in Italian and English – Subtitles in Italian and English

For years this Donizetti charm was deemed “reclusive” despite an initial reception which widely enthralled European audiences until 1889. Premiering in 1833, we turn to 1958 when Siena made a re-visit which nudged the work back onto the stage. Cervantes’ tome, Don Quixote, the literary font, helped make Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo one of Donizetti’s most successful opera semiseria œuvres, alongside his later piece, Linda di Chamounix.

Of particular importance is the fact that Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo was the first opera Donizetti assigned a baritone in the heroic role. This created an unusual though indelible first impression under Giorgio Ronconi. Based on size, heft and projection, Simone Alberghini’s Cardenio is virile and substantive, making a very convincing case. It’s not hard to see how Mr. Alberghini fitfully slips into these early 19th century Italian roles: in Los Angeles Opera’s 2011 production of Rossini’s dramma buffo, Il turco in Italia, his Selim garnered an anchored presence. Inside this Il furioso we find a Cardenio mapped with a rich, broad spectrum. Simone Alberghini houses a deep, voluminous voice, and he deftly teeters between delirium (seria) and comedic (buffo) proportions, justifying the opera’s genre. This contrast surfaces splendidly during the Cardenio-Kaidamà duet featuring the light-hearted amusements by Filippo Morace (Kaidamà, the black servant) despite Santuzzi Calì’s “politically incorrect” pancaking…the detail, however, can be overlooked and placed into proper context.

Equally powerful performances by remaining principals aid Gaetano Donizetti’s beautiful score. Cinzia Forte’s affected Eleonora sweeps the opera with episodic angelic coloratura selections, eliciting transparent warmth and effortless resolve. Marcella, here sung by soprano Marianna Vinci, convinces with touches of empathy and supportive feelings towards Cardenio and Eleonora while Leonardo Galeazzi nicely settles into his paternal duties as Marcella’s father, Bartolomeo. One of the other biggest assets in this cast is Francesco Marsiglia as Cardenio’s brother, Fernando. The voice has buttery sharpness and impeccable positioning. There is never a hesitation in the notes, and his Act II aria “Sarà! Ci spero poco” is lofty.

Director Francesco Esposito provides a masterful touch, moving music and the singing evenly forward. This is heightened by Michele Olcese’s personal touches of Emanuele Luzzati’s original keen splashes of West Indian mobile block print sets that hint at a muted Zandra Rhodes…color and innovation are brilliantly conceived.

Equally pleasing is the presentation: this Bongiovanni release is well-recorded which beautifully captures the lovely orchestral foundation under Giovanni Di Stefano with well-balanced choral blending tendered by Fabio Tartari.

One will find much to like in this flouncy score: the sextet (“Un mar di lagrime”) closing Act I anticipates Lucia di Lammermoor’s “Sconsigliato!” yet the structure is less poignant; nonetheless, the music is approachable, tuneful, and it continually waves with Donizetti élan. A worthwhile recording for Donizetti fans.

Christie Grimstad




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