Margherita Carosio

Menotti: Amelia al Ballo

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Urania's release of the 1954 La Scala production of Menotti's 1936 opera buffa Amelia al ballo (Amelia Goes to the Ball) represents the second appearance of this performance on CD. Testament issued a version in 1999 that included as a bonus five instrumental interludes from The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore conducted by Thomas Schippers from the original 1957 recording. For anyone who can't locate the Testament disc, however, Urania's release is very welcome. The remastering is expert, and the sound quality for the most part stands up well by contemporary standards. The sound is clean and warm, and only in the quietest moments is a very low-level hiss detectable, but it's so infrequent that it's not a serious distraction. The performances are stellar -- the three principals are expert comedians, and they're in fine voice. As Amelia, the ditzy young woman who will stop at nothing in order to get to the first ball of the season, Margherita Carosio has just the right mix of charm, petulance, and manic determination; she makes Amelia sound strikingly like an operatic incarnation of Lucille Ball's Lucy Ricardo. Giacinto Prandelli brings a warm and passionate tenor to the role of her lover. Baritone Rolando Panerai, as her husband, has a superb heroic tone, and excels at conveying his sarcasm, rage, and infuriating rationality. Much credit goes to conductor Nino Sanzogno for his perfect comic timing; the pace is snappy, but he also allows plenty of space for the score's lyric beauty to unfold.

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