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Recordings

Le Sposo di tre marito di nessuna
29 Sep 2006

CHERUBINI: Le Sposo di tre marito di nessuna

This 250th anniversary year of Mozart's birth must be heaven not only Amadeus lovers but also for those with a general inclination toward classical era music.

Luigi Cherubini: Le Sposo di tre marito di nessuna

Maria Laura Martorana, Emanuele D’Aguanno, Giulio Mastrototaro, Rosa Anna Peraino, Vito Priante, Rosa Sorice, Gabriele Ribis, Italian International Orchestra, Dimitri Jurowski (cond.)

Dynamic CDS503 [2CDs]

$37.49  Click to buy

Witness this Dynamic release of a forgotten Cherubini opera, Le Sposo di tre marito di nessuna (Three engagements, no marriages). First performed in 1783, three years before Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, this playful, charming score foreshadows much of the rhythmic vitality of the later masterpiece's score, though without its unforgettable tunefulness.

The storyline points a little further ahead, however, to some of the cynicism about human amatory impulses depicted in Cosi fan tutte. A foolish older nobleman, Don Pistacchio, waits to meet his arranged bride, Donna Rosa. But Donna Rosa's former paramour, Don Martino, schemes to get her back by convincing Pistacchio than Martino's sister, Donna Lisetta, is actually Donna Rosa. This scheme unravels at the end of act one, prompted by the interfering Don Simone, Pistacchio's uncle. But instead of a resolution, the characters' resentment and jealousy lead to further complications, with on-the-rebound engagements to unsuitable partners, meant to spite one another. Throwing in the lower-class couple of a trickster and his girlfriend, manic couplings and uncouplings ensue; eventually Don Pistacchio ends up with no bride after having three fiancées. Everyone else is happily paired off.

Although the score ambles with a Mozartean flair, some of the plot machinations are reminiscent of the great Rossini comedies. The end of act one even has an ensemble of characters expressing their bewilderment and frustration, as Rossini's so often do, but Cherubini's music plays down the comic aspects where Rossini would have whipped up a crescendo of cries and cackles. Well-played by the Orchestra Internazionale D'Italia under conductor Dimitri Jurowski's leadership, the score never fails to delight the ear, but the melodies just do not stick the way Mozart's do.

Perhaps a starry cast could help the music make a greater impression. Here the voices offer enthusiasm and skill but seldom inspiration or beauty. The three sopranos (Maria Laura Martorana, Rosa Anna Peraino, and Rosa Sorice) tend to thin, edgy delivery. Tenor Emanuele D'Aguanno's Don Martino has no big romantic aria, which is just as well, considering his unremarkable tone. The two baritones (Giulio Mastrototaro as Don Pistacchio and Gabriele Ribis as the trickster Folletto) growl and bark as much as one would expect and more than one would wish.

Despite the unprepossing singing, this set deserves a warm welcome. The booklet photos suggest the production, apparently set in the 1920s, added its own level of enjoyment; perhaps Dynamic should have produced a DVD, as they have with increasing frequency. Unlikely to appear at a USA opera house soon, Le Sposo di tre marito di nessuna reveals itself, on this Dynamic set, to be an opera well worth reviving, both for its inherent musical quality and the insights it provides to a rich era of operatic history.

Chris Mullins

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