MORLACCHI Tebaldo e Isolina (Fogliani)

Record and Artist Details

Genre:

Vocal

Label: Naxos

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: 8 660471/2

8 660471/2. MORLACCHI Tebaldo e Isolina (Fogliani)

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Tebaldo e Isolina Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani
Laura Polverelli
Raúl Baglietto
Antonino Fogliani
Annalisa D’Agosto
Sandra Pastrana
Gheorghe Vlad
Camerata Bach Choir, Poznan
Virtuosi Brunensis

Francesco Morlacchi doesn’t exactly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his contemporary, Gioachino Rossini. Both composed a Barbiere di Siviglia – Morlaccchi’s actually pipped Rossini’s to the stage by a few months but it hasn’t stood the test of time. Born in Perugia in 1784, Morlacchi notched up more than 20 operas to his credit, many composed in Dresden where, from 1811, he was Royal Saxon Kapellmeister of the Italian Opera. Morlacchi mainly composed opera buffa for Dresden, where his style suited the city’s more conservative tastes, although he was challenged by the arrival of Carl Maria von Weber (the two ‘tolerated’ each other).

But for Italian stages, Morlacchi focused on opera seria. His biggest hit was Tebaldo e Isolina, which premiered at La Fenice, Venice, in 1822. Indeed, it was performed in 40 cities over the subsequent decade, so it was a big international success. The role of Tebaldo was written for the last great castrato, Giovanni Battista Velluti, but when it was presented in Dresden in 1825, it had to be rewritten for a contralto. Morlacchi’s revision also involved cutting a handful of arias but making the existing ones more elaborate. It is the Dresden revision that is recorded here. Or, more exactly, was recorded six years ago at the 2014 Rossini in Wildbad festival. Why the long hiatus in Naxos issuing it? I have my suspicions.

The opera isn’t particularly strong. It’s essentially a Romeo and Juliet-type story set in medieval Altenburg of love across feuding families, although here there is no tragic ending as the patriarchs patch things up, however reluctantly, for the sake of their children. There are traces of Rossini in the score, especially in the very jolly Overture and some rousing choruses, but the vocal writing isn’t terribly distinctive.

Unfortunately, the cast isn’t especially good either. Laura Polverelli is decent enough as Tebaldo (the Romeo figure) and her Act 2 aria ‘Lo conosco!’ is well sung, her dark mezzo sensitively phrased. As Isolina (the Juliet figure), Sandra Pastrana manages her florid opening aria reasonably well but her tone is quite pinched and her intonation wavers. Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani’s Boemondo (Tebaldo’s banished father) is strong in character but Raúl Baglietto is woolly in tone as Ermanno, head of the rival Tromberg family. Antonino Fogliani leads a spirited Virtuosi Brunensis.

A black mark to Naxos too over its presentation. While it’s understandable that including a libretto in the printed booklet is a prohibitive cost, an online libretto in Italian only isn’t the best way to serve Morlacchi’s opera.

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