Marcello Viotti

Bellini: La Sonnambula (Part 2)

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This recording of the second part of La Sonnambula (the second disc of Nuova Era's release of the complete opera) includes the last three numbers of the first act and the complete second act. It's necessary to obtain Brilliant's first part of the opera, which is released separately, to get the beginning of the first act. The recording is taken from a live 1988 performance of the opera in Como, and it suffers from many of the weaknesses that plague live performances by provincial companies. The sound is less than ideal, generally a little tinny, brittle, and thin, and the chorus is distant sounding. There are the usual ambient sounds of live recordings (here including distant road and air traffic), which are easier to overlook if the performance is stellar. Marcello Viotti, conducting Orchestra Sinfonica di Piacenza and the Coro Città di Como, leads an uneven reading of the score, one that's generally a little on the slow and flaccid side, and his pacing of the solos is particularly lackluster. There is occasionally a lack of coordination between the orchestra and the chorus, which has some moments of raggedness. In the title role, Mariella Devia sings with purity, warmth, and agility, but does little to fill out the part dramatically. Luca Canonici is mostly adequate as Elvino, but is a little breathy and unsupported sounding. As Count Rodolfo, Alessandro Verducci sounds very old, unconvincing as a possible rival for Amina's affections, and he sings with excess vibrato. The singers in the supporting roles are not outstanding. Aside from Devia's fine vocalism, there's little to recommend this enervated performance of the opera, particularly when there's a wealth of superior versions available.

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