La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini. This 2008 production was staged by Hugo de Ana at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. The references to 17th century Romantic painting and refined visual projections are a tribute to Luchino Visconti. Visconti produced the memorable performance of La Sonnambula at the Scala di Milano with the magnificent Maria Callas.
Simone Alaimo is one of Italy’s best bass-baritones and Antonino Siragusa is a very experienced performer of Rossini and Bellini operas. The role of Amina is sung by the rising star of the International world, Eglise Gutierrez.
Dynamic, which has already in its catalogue a few neglected operas by Massenet, has the pleasure to offer another rarity by this composer, this Chérubin recorded live in Cagliari in 2006 year. The old Mozartian Cherubino of Le nozze di Figaro is no longer the young lad in his first naive contacts with women: his age moved on from 13 to 17 years and, of course, takes on more adolescent connotations. Massenet brings these aspects out well as he characterises Chérubin with vocal scoring that favours ample, intensely cantabile phrases, with leaps towards the acute register that give full vent to the lyrical soprano voice, with moments of sudden emphasis and equally rapid disappointments - a real tempest of hormones, light years away from the Voi che sapete of Mozart’s page boy.
After his success with Freischütz, Weber wanted to write a grand romantic opera and in the end the subject of Euryanthe was chosen, a tale inspired by a legend going back to the thirteen century. Euryanthe is music of inspiration and originality such as is rarely found in the history of German opera in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Italianisms that are occasionally glimpsed in Freischütz are eliminated almost completely. Euryanthe is set to music in its entirety, with accompanied recitative passages that are often of great beauty. We may say that in an opera that has many experimental features Weber sought for the first and only time in his life to overcome the traditional dichotomy between spoken and sung parts, between recitative and closed numbers, creating a highly supple musical structure. The present production features a cast of specialists of German opera and the outstanding direction of Pier Luigi Pizzi.
Most of Schubert’s operas were written without a specific commission, in the hope that, once completed, some theatre might find them interesting simply by virtue of their musical value. This unrealistic optimism proved almost always wrong and Schubert suffered bitter disappointments, very often working for nothing. Begun on 20th September 1821, Alfonso und Estrella was completed on 27th February 1822 but was first staged, on the initiative of Franz Liszt, only in 1854, after Schubert’s death. Alfonso und Estrella has the characteristic climate of a romantische Oper. If it is true that Schubert lacks the sense of theatre which is typical of the best operatic composers of his day (for example Weber), the power of his creativity and beauty of many arias cannot be denied.