Rota

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

The Night of a Neu­rotic; The Two Timid Ones

Gior­gio Ce­lenza, Sab­rina Cortese, Daniele Adri­ani, An­to­nio Sa­pio, Chiara Osella, Carlo Fe­ola; Reate Fes­ti­val Or­ches­tra/gabriele Bono­lis Dy­namic CDS 7830

98:64 mins (2 discs)

As Fed­erico Fellini’s com­poser­col­lab­o­ra­tor

– and writer of mag­nif­i­cent scores for Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola’s first two God­fa­ther films and more – most peo­ple will have heard the mu­sic of Nino Rota (1911-1979). Far fewer, how­ever, will be aware that this hugely suc­cess­ful and pro­lific Mi­lanese also wrote many con­cert works – and 11 operas.

Best known of these un­duly ne­glected works is the boule­vard farce, Il cap­pello di paglia di Firenze (The Flo­ren­tine Straw ★at). But the two beau­ti­fully crafted come­dies form­ing this en­er­getic dou­ble-bill, recorded live at the 2017 Reate Fes­ti­val, are equally de­serv­ing of at­ten­tion. Just 40 min­utes long, The Night of a Neu­rotic (1959) bursts with the dramma buffo may­hem that en­sues when a neu­rotic is kept awake by fel­low ho­tel guests. The Two Timid Ones (writ­ten for radio in 1950), also in one act, in­vests its hour-long com­me­dia lir­ica with ten­der pathos as would-be lovers miss the mo­ment and end up with the wrong part­ners.

Both operas teem with in­ven­tion. Warmly en­gag­ing with a bitonal edge, there are echoes of Rossini, Puc­cini, Stravin­sky – and verismo, in ar­dent melody that’s tem­pered with short, sharp declam­a­tory phrases. Yet the lan­guage is en­tirely Rota’s, with an adroit, ★ol­ly­wood in­ter­weav­ing of jazzy blues.

The all-but twin casts and Reate Fes­ti­val Or­ches­tra per­form with zeal un­der con­duc­tor Gabriele Bono­lis, let down by a some­what harsh recorded sound. Steph Power PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★

Sparkling range: so­prano Olga Perety­atko

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