Antonino Fogliani / Classica Chamber Choir, Brno / Virtuosi Brunensis

Nicola Vaccaj: La sposa di Messina

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Italian composer Nicola Vaccaj (also spelled Vaccai) is known today primarily for vocal exercises, but in his own time he was a successful as well as controversial contemporary of Bellini. La sposa di Messina here receives its first recording and has been performed only once since its disastrous premiere in 1839, when it was withdrawn midway through the second performance. It's an ambitious work, adapted from Schiller's play Die Braut von Messina (The Bride of Messina). The play was Schiller's best attempt to emulate Sophocles, with a pair of brothers who fall in love with the same woman, unaware that she is their sister and that, moreover, it has been prophesied that she will cause their destruction. There are tough soprano arias that British soprano Jessica Pratt, in the title role of Isabella, handles very well indeed. A chorus of courtiers has a varied, expressive role. And Vaccaj has a real feel for dramatic scenes such as Isabella's harp-haunted awakening from the dead faint into which she falls as the plot approaches its denoument (CD 2, track 3). A worthwhile operatic revival, but Naxos makes you go online for the otherwise unavailable libretto by Jacopo Cabianca.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
La sposa di Messina
1 2:00
2 3:59
3 3:55
4 4:58
5 8:13
6 5:39
7 6:10
8 7:40
9 3:24
10 5:33
11 5:11
12 6:17
blue highlight denotes track pick