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