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

Early Gluck arias at the Wigmore Hall

If composers had to be categorised as either conservatives or radicals, Christoph Willibald Gluck would undoubtedly be in the revolutionary camp, lauded for banishing display, artifice and incoherence from opera and restoring simplicity and dramatic naturalness in his ‘reform’ operas.

Das Rheingold, Opera North

Das Rheingold is, of course, the reddest in tooth and claw of all Wagner’s dramas - which is saying something.

Peter Grimes in Princeton

The Princeton Festival presents one opera annually, amidst other events. Its offerings usually alternate annually between 20th century and earlier operas. This year the Festival presented Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, now a classic work, in a very effective and moving production.

Scintillating Strauss in Saint Louis

If you like your Ariadne on Naxos productions as playful as a box of puppies, then Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is the address for you.

Saint Louis Takes On ‘The Scottish Opera’

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis took forty years before attempting Verdi’s Macbeth but judging by the excellence of the current production, it was well worth the wait.

Anatomy Theater: A Most Unusual New Opera

On June 16, 2016, Los Angeles Opera with Beth Morrison Projects presented the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang's Anatomy Theater at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT).

Shalimar in St. Louis: Pagliaccio Non Son

In its compact forty-year history, the ambitious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has just triumphantly presented its twenty-fifth world premiere with Shalimar the Clown.

Jenůfa, ENO

The sharp angles and oddly tilting perspectives of Charles Edwards’ set for David Alden’s production of Jenůfa at ENO suggest a community resting precariously on the security and certainty of its customs, soon to slide from this precipice into social and moral anarchy.

The “Other” Marriage of Figaro in a West Village Townhouse

Last week an audience of 50 assembled in the kitchen of a luxurious West Village townhouse for a performance of Marriage of Figaro.

West Wind: A new song-cycle by Sally Beamish

In a recent article in BBC Music Magazine tenor James Gilchrist reflected on the reason why early-nineteenth-century England produced no corpus of art song to match the German lieder of Schumann, Schubert and others, despite the great flowering of English Romantic poetry during this period.

Florencia en el Amazonas, NYCO

With the New York Premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, the New York City Opera Steps Out of the Shadows of the Past

Idomeneo, re di Creta, Garsington

Opportunities to see Idomeneo are not so frequent as they might be, certainly not so frequent as they should be.

Don Carlo in San Francisco

Not merely Don Carlo, but the five-act Don Carlo in the 1886 Modena version! The welcomed esotericism of San Francisco Opera’s extraordinary spring season.

Jenůfa in San Francisco

The early summer San Francisco Opera season has the feel of a classy festival. There is an introduction of Spanish director Calixto Bieito to American audiences, a five-act Don Carlo and two awaited, inevitable role debuts, Karita Mattila as Kostelnička and Malin Bystrom as Janacek's Jenůfa.

Musings on the “American Ring

Now that the curtain has long fallen on the third and last performance of the Ring cycle at the Washington National Opera (WNO), it is safe to say that the long-anticipated production has been an unqualified success for the company, director Francesca Zambello, and conductor Philippe Auguin.

Nabucco, Covent Garden

Most of the attention during this revival of Daniele Abbado’s 2013 production of Nabucco has been directed at Plácido Domingo’s reprise of the title role, with the critical reception somewhat mixed.

Tristan, English National Opera

My first Tristan, indeed my first Wagner, in the theatre was ENO’s previous staging of the work, twenty years ago, in 1996. The experience, as it should, as it must, although this is alas far from a given, quite overwhelmed me.

The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne

Four years ago, almost to the day (13th to 12th), I saw Melly Still’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen during its first Glyndebourne run. I found myself surprised how much more warmly I responded to it this time.

London: A 90th birthday tribute to Horovitz

This recital celebrated both the work of the Park Lane Group, which has been supporting the careers of outstanding young artists for 60 years, and the 90th birthday of Joseph Horovitz, who was born in Vienna in 1926 and emigrated to England aged 12.

Opera Las Vegas: A Blazing Carmen in the Desert

Headed by General Director Luana DeVol, a world-renowned dramatic soprano, Opera Las Vegas is a relatively new company that presents opera with first-rate casts at the University of Las Vegas’s Judy Bayley Theater. In 2014 they presented Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and in 2015, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This year they offered a blazing rendition of Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Vincenzo Bellini: Il Pirata
30 Aug 2009

Bellini: Il Pirata

This 1958 RAI broadcast of Bellini's early masterpiece requires the accustomed aural compromise for maximum enjoyment.

Vincenzo Bellini: Il Pirata

Mirto Picchi; Anna De’ Cavalieri; Walter Monachesi; Tomaso Spataro; Miti’ Truccato Pace; Odoardo Spataro. Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Torino della RAI/Mario Rossi. Live recording: Turin, February 9, 1958

Urania 22.366 [2CDs]

$18.98  Click to buy

At first the narrow spectrum evokes the aural equivalent of claustrophobia - the ears desperately desire some air around the notes. If a performance is decent or better, the ears soon adjust and even begin to imagine, as in an audio mirage, that the sound is better than it is. That happens here, thankfully.

Essentially a three-character libretto (by Felice Romani, uncredited in Urania’s paltry booklet of cast and track listings only), Il Pirata places a heroic tenor in the lead. Bellini provided his soprano with ample opportunity to shine, however, including an extended final scene bewailing the loss of her true love Gualtiero, the pirate, who is about to be executed for killing her husband Ernesto, who had blackmailed her into marriage. The loss of any synopsis in the booklet, in other words, can easily be compensated for by a performance than revels in the amplitude of Bellini’s music.

This RAI group does very well, despite the lack of starry names. Tenor Mirto Picchi doesn’t have either the sweetness of a lyric or the power of a spinto. His tone falls in the middle, which is not to call it “middling.” Think of him as a more human hero: the body of his voice strong if lacking any distinctive character, and the top securely accessed. Right from her entrance as Imogene, Anna De’ Cavalieri demonstrates that though her name may not be familiar, at the time of this recording she was very special indeed. The tone has a passing familiarity to that of Callas. But in 1958, De’ Cavalieri’s control and fluidity, right to an exciting top, mark her as her own artist. As has happened all too often, Il Pirata becomes another Bellini soprano vehicle with a performance such as this. As her despicable husband, Walter Monachesi growls appropriately.

The Torino forces of the RAI play well for conductor Mario Rossi, but the orchestra contributions are dimmed by the dismal sound. As mentioned above, Urania provides next to nothing in its fold-out booklet. For lovers of this opera, this admirable performance should be provision enough.

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):