Nino Sanzogno

Malipiero: Giulio Cesare

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It's difficult not to allow the political circumstances surrounding Malipiero's 1935 opera Giulio Cesare to color one's reaction to it. The composer wrote that he was drawn to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar because "there was something in the air that drove me toward a Latin hero." That "something in the air" was Mussolini's fascism, and Malipiero dedicated the opera to the dictator. If the opera were a masterpiece, musicians would be driven into a moral dilemma as to whether or not performing it would compromise their consciences, but it is of negligible musical interest, so few artists will be faced with that decision. Written during Malipiero's relatively unengaging conservative middle period, the opera is competently composed, but the music seldom does more than underscore the dialogue and has little inherent interest. It receives a committed performance from the Orchestra Sinfonico and Coro di Milano della RAI, led by Nino Sanzogno in this live 1956 recording. Among the soloists, soprano Silvana Zanolli and baritones Anselmo Colzani and Renato Capecchi sing with conviction and strong characterizations. The disc is filled out with Colzani singing eight Verdi arias.

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