Pier Alberto Biondi

Giordano: Il Re

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AllMusic Review by

Il Re is Umberto Giordano's last opera, first staged in 1929 and seldom heard since. It is an interesting opera, as it demonstrates that Giordano, stalwart of verismo, had lived long enough to recognize the value of expressionistic scoring and incorporated some of it into this late work. Il Re is entertaining, melodious, and has a decent storyline based in fantasy, and does not deserve its long neglect. Two new recordings from Italian firms have surfaced in recent years; hopefully this can be read as a sign that Il Re's fortunes are improving.

One thing that does not help its chances is the appearance of this bootleg Gala disc, taken from an LP, complete with clearly audible ticks, of a live recording made in Foggia in 1971. The recording appears to have been made from the orchestra pit, seemingly next to the flute player, who is loudest on the tape. The cast is unremarkable, but this doesn't matter because you can't hear them well anyway -- and even if you could you wouldn't want to, as all of the singing is bad. Elena Baggiore, as Rosalina, seems to have an apoplectic fit at one point. The singers, chorus, and orchestra are often out of sync with one another, and in one scene the chorus is so far off mike that the audience is louder than the music. Orchestral intonation is wiry, wayward, and frequently sour. A monkey with a typewriter seems to have translated the liner notes, which contain such descriptive information as "the ruler now definitely decides for Rosalina's future good in life he will destroy the attendants to disrobe him so that will see the actual truth behind the bewitching appearance."

As a bonus, a commercial recording of Lina Pagliughi from 1941 singing an aria from Il Re is included, although this is available elsewhere. This disc can only satisfy those who get a kick out of listening to hideously awful opera recordings; for the rest, save your money or spend it elsewhere.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Il Re, opera
1
0:48
2
1:06
3
3:09
4
2:52
5
0:50
6
3:12
7
3:04
8
4:26
9
1:40
10
2:51
11
4:52
12
1:04
13
3:41
14
2:40
15
5:16
16
3:30
17
2:58
18
3:01
19
2:12
20
1:50
21
6:53
22
2:15
23
2:48
24
3:16
blue highlight denotes track pick