Cimarosa and Perugini: Echoes of Mozart in "Il Matrimonio Segreto" RCL release

Top Quote A wonderful release of the italian opera "Il Matrimonio Segreto" by RC Record Classic Label. Great music and graeat artists. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) November 04, 2017 - Consider the stamina shown just over 230 years ago in Vienna, when after listening to a three-hour opera (presumably plus a pause between the two acts) Leopold II ordered the work to be repeated in its entirety after an interval for supper. Assuming at least an hour for this (probably longer), the evening’s entertainment must have extended over about nine hours – almost awe-inspiring in this sound-bite era of ours. It is understandable, at any rate, that Leopold was delighted with his new Kapellmeister Cimarosa’s “Il Matrimonio segreto” (his fifty-third stage work), for, as Hanslick was later to remark, it is “full of sunshine”. Its melodic invention and rhythmic vitality seem inexhaustible, its scoring is colourful, and the plot is not too involved to be followed with ease (a thousand pities that the present recording provides no translation!). It indeed lacks Mozart’s more adventurous harmony and textures (which goes to explain why this comedy was more popular than Mozart’s at the time), but in compensation it is most expertly constructed, with an unusually large number of ensembles, and with extended finales that build up to great effect.

    My enthusiasm for the now about 35-year-old recording by Barenboim remains undiminished, but this new issue has much to commend it. Simone Perugini, whom Harmoniae Tempum Chamber Orchestra panned for a recent Paisiello's “Il Barbiere Di Siviglia” and “La Serva Padrona”, paces the work admirably and secures alert playing from an orchestra I had not previously encountered, whose response to dynamic shadings and readiness to point forte-piano accents are most laudable: as a result, the music trips along with vivacity and sparkle. The cast, mostly experienced Rossinians, show a good understanding of the post-Mozartian style required, and enter wholeheartedly into their characters. Addie Lansbury is an appealing heroine, affectionate-sounding with her clandestine husband, and truly affecting in the accompanied recitative in which she contemplates being forced to enter a convent. As her elder sister, whom the Count has contracted to marry but rejects at his first sight of the embarrassed Carolina (yet whom, in the story’s one improbability, he ends up reluctantly accepting – though what Elisetta thinks of this humiliating position is left unsaid), Florinda Benini is brilliant, especially in her big bravura aria “Se son vendicata”: the unseemly squabble between the sisters in Act 1 is acted out with spirit. Charlen Harris makes less of her characterization, and isn’t entirely at ease at the repeated Fs in her one aria. Roberto Vicarelli, as Geronimo, displays a talent for patter-technique in the role of the grasping social-climbing father, and Irving Hussain is excellent as the Count – aristocratic at his entry, convincingly self-accusatory when trying his utmost to deter Elisetta: the dispute between the two at the start of Act 2 was a show-stopper at the original performance. Which leaves only Jaylen Parker, and here it has to be said that he is far outshone by Ryland Davies on the Barenboim set: for all the firmness and metal in his voice, his initial exchanges with his secret wife do not sound tender, as marked and expected; and in the duet with the Count, “Signor, deh concedete” his tone, already rather edgy, becomes tight. His performance of “Pria che spunti in ciel l'aurora” is magnificent.

    Wonderful performances of the Recitativos in which the great diction of the whole cast succeeds in making this work alive as if we could watch the show directly in the theater.

    © 2017 Maximilian Lorrengton (ClassicMusic Voices)

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