Magazine article Gramophone

Mercadante

Magazine article Gramophone

Mercadante

Article excerpt

Mercadante [DVD] [BR]

Francesca da Rimini

Leonor Bonilla sop         Francesca
Aya Wakizono mez               Paolo
Merto Sungu ten            Lanciotto
Antonio Di Matteo bass         Guido
Larisa Martinez sop           Isaura
Ivan Ayon Rivas ten           Guelfo

Chorus of the Transylvanian State Philharmonic

Orchestra of Cluj-Napoca; Italian International

Orchestra/Fablo Luisi

Stage director Pier Luigi Pizzi

Video director Matteo RIcchetti

Dynamic (M) (3) CDS7753; (F) (2) [DVD] 37753; (F) [BR] 57753 (3h 20' * DDD * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080i * DTS-HD MA5.1. DD5.1 & PCM stereo * s)

Recorded live at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina

Franca, Italy, July & August 2016

Synopsis Included; text and translation available from dynamic.it

This is a surprise: the first-ever production of Mercadante's Francesca da Rimini, given last year at the opera festival in Martina Franca, a hilltop town in the heel of Italy. It was composed in 1830 for Madrid but the composer withdrew it after a disagreement with the management of the theatre; a production at La Scala also failed to materialise, and that was that.

The historical Paolo and Francesca were adulterous lovers in 13th-century Rimini; they were murdered by Lanciotto, who was Francesca's husband and Paolo's elder brother. Following the couple's appearance in Dante's Inferno, the story was treated by many composers, including Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. In this version, Francesca has fallen in love with Paolo before being forced to marry Lanciotto for political reasons. The husband has his suspicions, which are confirmed when he finds the lovers embracing after reading the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere (rendered as Geneva in the subtitles, one of many absurdities). Both are saved from death by the armed intervention of Guido, Francesca's father. Francesca vows to take the veil; she and Paolo are interrupted again by Lanciotto and they end up dead after all.

The libretto, by Felice Romani but apparently adapted by other hands, is serviceable but misses a few tricks: Guido, responsible for his daughter's unhappy marriage, comes across as a sympathetic character; and there is no follow-up to Lanciotto's assuring him that Francesca detests Paolo. The consensus on Mercadante's operas seems to be that they are rather less than the sum of their parts, lacking dramatic thrust and memorable tunes. …

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