Still there is more to be discovered in the score like Vivettaís aria, the fine intermezzo or the big duet between Federico and Vivetta in the second act. Cilea started his career as an opera composer with Gina as a 23-year old in 1889 and finished it 18 years later with Gloria as a 41-year old (Bongiovanniís recordings of both operas can be warmly recommended). He lived for another 43 years without composing a major work.
Soon after the premiËres his operas sank into oblivion but in the twenties there was a renewed interest and his best known work Adriana Lecouvreur became a staple of the repertory in Italy. LíArlesiana, too, once more made the rounds of the theatres. By that time, Cilea was probably too old and the onslaught of modern composing techniques was so great that he didnít show an inclination to return to the stage. Still he started revising some of his older works; especially this Arlesiana, which only got its final version in 1937. By then the older versions were already much ingrained and the two first recordings didnít use the definitive version.
Iíve never heard the Pederzini/Oncina/Protti recording but it seems the sound is not really state of the art. Rodolfo Celetti in his ìTeatro díopera in discoî has some good words for Pederzini and Protti but thinks the Cetra version to be superior. Of course Ferruccio Tagliavini was the reason behind this recording and he is easily the best Federico on record. Still, for those who know his hauntingly beautiful ìE la solita storiaî recorded in June 1940, the complete set will be a little disappointing as some of the wonderful sweetness and bloom had gone out of the voice eleven years later. We had to wait another 41 years before we got the first really complete version but Kelen/Anderson/Spacagna didnít really give us an idiomatic version.
This latest, newest and most complete version has at least an all-Italian cast who know their trade. Lyric soprano Daria Masiero as Vivetta is a discovery: a lovely voice and a vivacious singer who clearly supersedes all her predecessors. Mezzo Elisabetta Fiorillo brings along a rich somewhat tremulous but convincing voice; and her ìEsser madreî is a success with the public. Pia Tassinara in the Cetra-set (at the time Tagliaviniís wife before he threw her out and married a young lady 24 years his junior) had recently converted to mezzo-soprano. Yet she remains, however, a soprano who has lost her top; and the voice has not the fullness of Fiorillo. Stefano Antonucci in this latest version but a poor substitute for Cetraís Paolo Silveri. The sound is indistinct and he has difficulties in his high register. Most opera lovers will have Giuseppe Taddeiís fine version of ìCome due tizziî in their memory and Antonucci is simply no match.
And then there is the fly in the ointment. A good version of LíArlesiana falls or sinks with the tenor. Joseph Calleja is the only tenor around who could have outsung Tagliavini as he has exactly the beauty and youthfulness that is required in this role but alas he is not in the cast (and is probably already too expensive for a small theatre and recording company). Still I wonder if it wasnít possible to find older singers like Salvatore Fisichella or younger ones like Giuseppe Filianote for the role. Of course, the tenor in this recording didnít have to learn the part as he had already sung the role during his career. But listening to Luca Canonici, one wouldnít presume that he made his dÈbut only 18 years before this recording. His was never a big voice and he didnít always choose his roles wisely and this shows. The voice sounds a bit worn and dry. He never had a big spectrum of colours in his sound, as is proven by his solo CD (a reward for substituting for JosÈ Carreras in the BohËme movie) but the freshness has now gone out of the voice. His ìE la solita storiaî is not bad as he sings with style and sensitivity and doesnít try to emulate Gigliís bleaty sobbing. But after all, the role was written for young Enrico Caruso, never a tenore di grazia, and Canoniciís small voice is no match for the role. Reynaldo Giovanninetti has his forces well in hand and gives a sterling interpretation of overture and intermezzo. I hope Bongiovanni will keep up the good work and give us one day Cileaís Tilda; his only opera that is still completely unknown.
image_description=Francesco Cilea: LíArlesiana
product_title=Francesco Cilea: LíArlesiana
product_by=Elisabetta Fiorillo; Luca Canonici; Daria Masiero; Stefano Antonucci; Corrado Cappitta; Lorenzo Muti; Alessandra Palomba; Orchestra Philarmonia Mediterrranea e Coro Francesco Cilea, Reynald Giovanninetti (cond.).
Live Registration at the Teatro Rendano Cosenza on December the 10th and 12th 2004.
product_id=Bongiovanni GB 2549/50-2 [2CDs]