GIORDANO Fedora (Galli)
When Daniela Dessì died in August 2016, the opera world lost an Italian spinto in the old-school mould. This Blu-ray recorded just under a year and a half earlier gives some idea of what she could deliver. Her performance displays powerful, authentically tangy tone, rock-solid technique and a touching stage presence. There’s some squalliness at the top of the voice, admittedly, but this is a timely reminder of a fine artist.
Alas, though, her performance is not always matched by the rest of the production. Rosetta Cucchi’s staging aims for something both traditional and modern, with an ‘older Loris’ onstage throughout and scenes, played out behind a glass screen, showing us war and its aftermath – the battle tableau we see during the jolly Act 2 Prelude is no doubt designed to create a thought-provoking contrast but struck me as merely incongruous.
Otherwise the cast seem largely to have been allowed to get on with their thing. Dessì is grand and noble in time-honoured tradition; Fabio Armiliato chews the scenery and beats his chest in no less time honoured tradition as Loris, one of verismo’s less grown-up and endearing tenor characters. Armiliato’s singing is not high on subtlety, with plenty of swoops and sobs thrown in for good measure, but there’s certainly no doubting his commitment; and the final scene between him and Dessì – the couple were married – no doubt gains a new emotional dimension.
Daria Kovalenko’s spunky Olga and the impressive bass Roberto Maietta as Gretch are the pick of the rest of the cast. Valerio Galli conducts the orchestra well enough but can’t elicit anything like the warmth or lyricism the score – a more intimate affair than Giordano’s breakthrough Andrea Chénier – calls for.
Dynamic’s production is not ideal, either. The camera direction is keen to make sure we don’t forget about ‘Older Loris’, while the sound quality is worryingly variable, not least when it comes to Armiliato, who often seems to be singing in a different acoustic and who rarely seems to be totally in sync with what we hear.