VERDI Un giorno di regno (Bosch)
Un giorno di regno was Verdi’s only opera buffa, an early work composed in 1840 and a far cry from the mellow, autumnal comedy of Falstaff, written deep into his retirement. It’s hardly great music but it is full of pretty bel canto melodies and patter numbers that one could easily mistake for emanating from the pen of Rossini or Donizetti.
Usually translated into English as ‘King for a Day’, the opera charts the escapades of the Cavaliere di Belfiore, who is masquerading as Stanislaus I, the Polish king, for political purposes. He uses his disguise to engineer a few romantic encounters, including his own reunion with the Marchesa del Poggio, who had broken things off when she suspected his infidelity. It’s a farce, an operatic situation comedy, but passes its 100 minutes pleasantly enough.
This recording on Coviello comes from staged performances at the opera festival in Heidenheim in 2016 where, judging from the black-and-white booklet photos, the plot was relocated to an Italian pizzeria in the 1970s. Thankfully, very little stage noise can be discerned. Marcus Bosch leads the Cappella Aquileia in a buoyant account of the jaunty Overture, the main theme of which returns in the opera’s finale. His cast are young but decent, although it can’t hold a candle to the starry ensemble gathered under Lamberto Gardelli’s baton for Philips’ early Verdi series.
Weirdly, there is no cast list to be found anywhere. You have to trawl through the biographies to see who is singing each role and even then the character of La Rocca is only referred to in the libretto as the Tesoriere (treasurer), making it difficult to match him to bass David Steffens. Gocha Abuladze has quite a marked vibrato going on but sounds not unlike Enzo Dara or Fernando Corena, so is in the right vocal mould for the role of Belfiore. Tenor Giuseppe Talamo’s Edoardo sounds a little pinched, certainly no match for the honeyed José Carreras on Philips, and Swedish mezzo Elisabeth Jansson has a few untidy moments as the Marchesa; but their trio with Valda Wilson’s pearly Giulietta comes off nicely. The Act 1 buffo duet for Davide Fersini’s Barone and Steffens’s La Rocca is good fun and Bosch moves the ensembles on briskly. In short, an enjoyable outing for a rarity you’re unlikely to bump into on stages outside Italy too often.