Souvenirs of 19th Century Italian Opera

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Souvenirs of 19th Century Italian Opera

  • (L')Ebreo
  • Jone, o L'ultimo giorno di Pompeo
  • (I) due Ciabattini
  • (La) Contessa d'Amalfi
  • Amleto
  • (Le) Educande di Sorrento
  • Ruy Blas
  • Ruy Blas
  • Ruy Blas
  • Ruy Blas
  • Esmeralda
  • (Il) Guarany, Gentile di cuore
  • (Il) Guarany, Sento una forza indomita
  • (Il) Guarany, Il torvo sguardo
  • (Il) Guarany, Senza tetto, senza cuna
  • (I) promessi sposi, Al tuo trono
  • Lina
  • Ero e Leandro

Here is a test for the encyclopaedias and dictionaries. Apolloni, Bottesini, Campana, Faccio, Marchetti, Petrella, Ruggi: let us see what they can tell us about these (Gomes and Ponchielli being taken for granted). The International Dictionary of Opera (St James Press: 1993) scores one only (Franco Faccio, mostly as a conductor); The Viking Opera Guide (Viking: 1993) has three (Bottesini, Marchetti, Petrella); the New Grove Opera (1992) has all save Francesco Ruggi. As for the singers, some of these defeat even the compilers of the disc: ''We begin with a singer about whom we can find almost no information'' (Arturo DiGiorgio), ''No biographical information can be found'' (Angelo Santini), ''This basso is another mystery man'' (Enrico Vannuccini). I can do no better, so we mustn't mock.
Among the unknowns are some good arias and some good singers, though only one item has drawn me back to listen repeatedly. This is Ofelia's solo, ''Principe Amleto'', in the ill-fated opera Amleto by Faccio, who renounced composition after the rough ride given to his work at La Scala. The singer, Chloe Owen, recorded it specially for IRCC around 1960 (strange they cannot be more precise about the date), and though no text is given it would seem to be a reading of one of Hamlet's love-letters (''Doubt thou the stars are fire'', etc.). The music is tasteful and the singing fresh-toned and delicate, with a most finely placed high C. After this, a principal attraction is the opportunity to hear de Luca sing ''Addio del passato'', and I'll say no more for that would give the game away. Among old friends, the tenor Scampini is gratefully heard, and among new acquaintances the soprano Tina Desana. In his Two Centuries of Opera at Covent Garden (London: 1958), Harold Rosenthal says that the reason for engaging her is a mystery—one, I would think, that this record helps to explain.
The rare recordings are transferred from good copies though with some top-cut, as is evident if the Guarany duet is compared with versions on Pearl and Symposium. The booklet, despite areas of defeat, is helpful and well-illustrated, and the provision of texts (only two missing) is a subject for congratulation.'

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