The opera comes from Meyerbeer’s early years, before he established himself in France and created his greatest successes (an opening booklet note from Sergio Segalini refers to Meyerbeer in those years as a “Wandering Jew,” believe it or not).
The plot of Semiramide mixes palace intrigue with various forms of transvestism, which would seem to be a good recipe for a success on today’s stages. Meyerbeer’s score finds him in faux-Rossini mode, with the recitatives accompanied by a rather drab piano, perfunctorily played. Ensembles and arias intertwine in typical patterns, and Meyerbeer’s melodic gift presents itself as more a promise than accomplishment. However, act two has some attractive numbers, including a sweet aria for princess Tamiri called “D’un genio che m’accende,” which Stefania Grasso sings just well enough to allow for an appreciation of the music. The writing for the tenor role, Ircano, pushes the Rossini touch into early Verdi territory, and Aldo Caputo delivers the role with pleasing force and adequate agility. Not a major voice, but an appealing one.
However, in the title role, and with quite a lot of music, Clara Polito will be a trial for many ears, although there are always fans out there with an appreciation for warbly, acidic vocalizing. Polito’s intonation suffers in her first numbers. Later she settles, and she has the technique to satisfy some of Meyerbeer’s challengers. In the end, and allowing for taste, Polito’s instrument simply lacks enough appeal to give her character’s music a real chance to impress.
Dynamic, as usual, recorded a live performance. For the most part stage noise does not intervene. In tiny print on the rear of the CD case Dynamic lists the place and location of the recording as the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, in August 2005. Rani Calderon leads the orchestra Internazionale D’Italia and the Slovak Choir of Bratislava. Cnsidering the rarity of the work, the musicians do an adequate, if characterless, job.
Meyerbeer fans surely will want to have this set. Others will have to decide how much interest they have in early Meyerbeer to accept a performance of modest accomplishment.
image_description=Giacomo Meyerbeer: Semiramide
product_title=Giacomo Meyerbeer: Semiramide
product_by=Clara Polito; Aldo Caputo; Eufemia Tufano; Federico Sacchi; Stefania Grasso; Roberto De Biasio. Slovak Choir of Bratislava/Pavol Prochazka. Orchestra Internazionale DíItalia/Rani Calderon. Recorded at Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy, August 2006
product_id=Dynamic 533/1-2 [2CDs]