Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Poliuto, Glyndebourne

Donizetti’s Poliuto at Glyndebourne could well become one of of the great Glyndebourne classics.

Carmen by ENO

Dystopic vision of Carmen, brought to life by vibrantly gripping performances

Pacific Opera Project Presents Ariadne auf Naxos

Pacific Opera Project, a small Los Angeles company, presented a production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos at the Ebell Club with an excellent group of young singers at the beginning of what should be good careers.

Varispeed pushes the possibilities of opera forward with Robert Ashley’s Crash

Six people, dressed in ordinary clothing, sitting in a row at desks adorned only with microphones and glasses of water, and talking for ninety minutes: is it opera?

Rising Stars in Concert, Lyric Opera of Chicago

The spring concert of Rising Stars in Concert, sponsored by and featuring current members of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, showcased a number of talents that will no doubt continue to grace the stages of the world’s operatic theaters.

The Singers Sparkle in New York Opera Exchange’s Carmen

New York Opera Exchange’s production of Carmen from May 8th to 10th highlighted that which opera devotees have been saying for years: Opera, far from being dead, is vibrant and evolving.

‘Where’er You Walk’: Handel’s Favourite Tenor

I have sometimes lamented the preference of Ian Page’s Classical Opera for concert performances and recordings over staged productions, albeit that their renditions of eighteenth-century operas and vocal works are unfailingly stylish, illuminating and supported by worthy research.

The Pirates of Penzance, ENO

Topsy Turvy, Mike Leigh’s 1999 film starring Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent, dramatized the fraught working relationship of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan; it won four Oscar nominations (garnering two Academy Awards, for costume and make-up) and is a wonderful exploration of the creative process of bringing a theatrical work to life.

Manitoba Opera: Turandot

There’s little doubt that Puccini’s Turandot is a flawed, illogical fairytale. Yet it continues to resonate today with its undying “love shall conquer all” ethos, where even the most heinous crimes may be forgiven by that which makes the world go ‘round.

Mariachi Opera El Pasado Nunca se Termina Comes to San Diego

On April 25, 2015, San Diego Opera presented it’s second Mariachi opera: El Pasado Nunca se Termina (The Past is Never Finished) by Jose “Pepe” Martinez, Leonard Foglia and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.

Antonio Pappano: Royal Opera House Orchestral Concerts

Ambition achieved! Antonio Pappano brought the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House out of the pit and onto the stage, the centre of attention in their own right.

Bedřich Smetana: Dalibor, Barbican Hall

Jiří Bělohlávek’s annual Czech opera series at the Barbican, London, with the BBC SO continued with Bedřich Smetana’s Dalibor.

Orlando Explores Art Without Boundaries

R.B. Schlather’s production of Handel’s Orlando asks the enigmatic question: Where do the boundaries of performance art begin, and where do they end?

The Virtues of Things

A good number of recent shorter operas, particularly those performed in this country, made a stronger impression with their libretti than their scores.

Król Roger, Royal Opera

It has taken almost 89 years for Karol Szymanowski’s Król Roger to reach the stage of Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera Celebrates 50 Years of Great Singing

San Diego Opera, the company that General Manager Ian Campbell had scheduled for demolition, proved that it is alive and singing as beautifully as ever. Its 2015 season was cut back slightly and management has become a bit leaner, but the company celebrated its fiftieth season in fine style with a concert that included many of the greatest arias ever written.

Hercules vs Vampires: Film Becomes Opera!

In the early sixties, Italian film director Mario Bava was making pictures with male body builders whose well oiled physiques appeared spectacular on the screen.

Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine

Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France

J. C. Bach: Adriano in Siria

At this start of the year, Classical Opera embarked upon an ambitious project. MOZART 250 will see the company devote part of its programme each season during the next 27 years to exploring the music by Mozart and his contemporaries which was being written and performed exactly 250 years previously.

Bethan Langford, Wigmore Hall

The Concordia Foundation was founded in the early 1990s by international singer and broadcaster Gillian Humphreys, out of her ‘real concern for building bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Pietro Mascagni: Zanetto
14 Jan 2009

MASCAGNI: Zanetto

More than just three letters distinguishes "rarity" from "oddity." In opera, a rarity would be an admired work seldom performed.

Pietro Mascagni: Zanetto

Jennifer Larmore, mezzo; Eilana Lappalainen, soprano; Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic. Peter Tiboris, conducting.

Elysium Records 727 [CD]

$17.99  Click to buy

Perhaps casting the singers poses problems, or the libretto is weak, or the whole style outdated. The oddity, however, pops up out of nowhere and the general response is, “Why?”

Pietro Mascagni’s Zanetto falls somewhere in between. At only about 40 minutes, the neglect of this work is no mystery. Some of the music is quite attractive, but the story would need some filing in to be called a sketch.

In Florence Sylvia, a courtesan of some years, steps out onto her balcony to sing of her boredom with life and love. A young minstrel stops below and sings a paean to love. Intrigued and attracted, Sylvia descends to chat the youth up; he tells her that he has heard that the beautiful courtesan Sylvia lives nearby. She realizes she has one more chance at love, but the boy’s idealized vision of herself prompts her to tell him to look elsewhere for his Sylvia, and as he wanders off, minstrelling away, she sheds a few tears of amorous regret.

Peter Tiboris, conducting the Bohuslav Martinú Philharmonic, selected a choral version of the prelude Mascagni composed for the opera. Three minutes of wordless beauty, this music promises more riches than the rest of the opera actually provides. The orchestral version of the prelude Mascagni later arranged comes after the opera on the disc. In between, Sylvia, a soprano, and Zanetto, a mezzo pants-role, basically exchange arias for 30 minutes. All of this music is pleasant without being especially memorable. If Zanetto’s music comes off better, probably the credit goes to Jennifer Larmore’s handsome tone and restrained characterization. Unfortunately, soprano Eilana Lappalainen has one of those large, acidic voices that can be entertaining live but that record very poorly indeed. Sylvia’s music suffers as a result.

The disc reaches 50 minutes by including the luscious intermezzo from L’amico Fritz and the umpteenth run-through of that from Cavalleria rusticana.

Perhaps another recording with a more appealing soprano would push Zanetto firmly into the “rarity” column.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):