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La Fedeltà Premiata
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Description du produit
Une heureuse initiative de Philips, au début des années quatre-vingt, conduisit le label à enregistrer huit opéras de Haydn sous la direction de Antal Dorati. Le résultat fut tout simplement exceptionnel. Les chanteurs (Tonny Landy en Fileno, Alan Titus en comte Perruchetto) et les chanteuses (Lucia Valentini-Terrani en Celia, Frederica von Stade en Amaranta) sont élégiaques. L'orchestre suisse de Dorati est au diapason de la tristesse, et le chef lui-même transcende une direction millimétrée. La version de référence, de très loin, pour son rayonnement et sa flamboyance. --Eric Frank
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First, anyone who belittles “Haydn and his ‘Can-Opener’ Quartet” is an ideological enemy of the Australian Knappertsbusch Association. Even so, the controversial Funkin’ Duncan, the man who owns half of the Wergo catalogue (and he steadfastly asserts that Webern is too conservative and bourgeois for his tastes), is a firm friend of ours. We recently met up. With an impish grin, he handed over Dorati’s performance of La Fedeltà Premiata as a belated birthday present. “This is just what you deserve!” he said delphically. A raven croaked nearby. With foreboding in my heart, I muttered “Thank you!” as I fled the scene with a clean pair of heels.
Elsewhere, I rely heavily on the reviews of the English head of the AKA and all the more so as I’m a pretender in the realm of opera. Anyway, I recently asked the individual in question to undertake a weekend-long, Voyager 2-like survey of Haydn’s operatic works, starting with the three hour oratorio ‘Return of Tobias’, followed by Lo Speziale (The Apothecary), L'infedeltà delusa (Deceit Outwitted), L'Incontro Improvviso (The Unexpected Encounter), the infamous Il Mondo della Luna (The World on the Moon), La Vera Costanza (True Constancy), L'Isola Disabitata (The Deserted Island), Orlando Paladino (The Paladin Orlando) and washed down jubilantly by Armida with its three acts. This is no big deal, or so I thought! Much to my surprise, there was a mutiny in the ranks: the individual in question hung up the phone and he’s been incommunicado ever since. Under the circumstances, I’ll scratch out this review without his insight and wider wisdom and may the Devil take us all!
Upon reflection, Haydn’s operas put the fear of God into most people. That I can understand. Given how wretched the libretti are, dramaturgy is weak. It’s easier to leave the Earth’s gravitational field than to grasp these plots and the shifting alliances therein. Nevertheless, La Fedeltà Premiata has long been reputed to be the best of Haydn’s labours in this genre. In spades, confirmation is at hand. As Wikipedia states, La Fedeltà premiata is a dramma pastorale giocoso (a comic opera with pastoral elements). Here, the notes in the booklet were penned by H. C. Robbins Landon; his evangelical fervour for this work is understandable (and the detective work he undertook to reconstruct the score from various archives is a great read). Simply put, the music is phenomenal. This is the Haydn of 1780 at white-heat. With the reopening of the opera house at Eszterháza, and ever more conscious of his genius, he’s determined to make a statement. As such, it’s kin to the contemporaneous Symphony no. 70 where the same intent is evident. Unlike most of Haydn’s operas, La Fedeltà Premiata features not a few ensembles where characterisation is emblazoned upon the listener. Robbins Landon lauds both finales which again, advance and resolve the narrative rather than merely commenting on it. As evidence of the music’s excellence, I table the following (and in truth, I could list most tracks):
“Bella Dea . . . Prendi, prendi o Cintia” from Act 1. What a double opening!
“Dove oh Dio, dove oh Dio ri volgo il piede.” This is a postcard from Cythera.
“Placidi ruscelletti” from Act 1 whose melody would melt stone.
The Act 1 finale in itself with seven separate segments (like the Act 2 finale from Figaro) and slap–in-the-face that is redolent of the Recognition Scene from K 492. Reader, this is a masterpiece!!!!!
“Bastano, bastano i pianti” from Act 2. Was this rummaging around in Mozart’s mind when he penned the slow movement of K 595?
“Dell' amor mio fedele” from Act 2 – this could easily be inserted into Cosi fan Tutte and no-one would question the authorship.
And of course, the Overture later served as the finale of the famous La Chasse Symphony.
This Doráti recording from June 1975 could scarcely be bettered in my opinion. It’s underwritten by the warmest of analogue sound. Better still, it’s spearheaded by two of my favourite singers of all time: the immortal Ileana Cotrubas (as Neria) and Frederica von Stade (as Amaranta) , both of whom are glorious of tone. The remainder of the cast (Valentini-Terrani [an up-gunned version of Anna Tomowa-Sintow] / Landy / Alva / Titus / Mazzieri) is satisfactory even if Titus as Count Perruccetto sound disconcertingly like Theo Adams at time in his wobble. Dorati became ever more heavy-handed in his treatment of the recitatives as he progressively completed his survey of Haydn’s operas for Philips. This was the first cab off the rank: they’re fleet and witty where required.
On paper at least, an opera fails where there’s an imbalance between the plot and music. Even so, given the richness on offer here, I shall return often to La Fedeltà Premiata and do so with expectancy and anticipation. What a labour of love this is! If you want to fathom Haydn’s achievement in this domain, this is the place to start. No sweat!
La Fedelta Premiata (fidelity rewarded) was my first acquaintance with his operas, the reason merely being the well-known cast assembled for this recording. The ladies, Valentini Terrani, Von Stade and Cotrubas are all in wonderful form and their honeyed tones blend in magnificently. The veteran Luigi Alva still had so much to offer in 1975 when this set was recorded and Tonny Landy and Maurizio Mazzieri make the best out of their superb arias.
A long opera filled with recitatives, light arias and wonderful finales but then I guess it does take long for fidelity to pay off, doesn't it?!
The performances on this recording are far from perfect, being much what one would expect for a recording of such a rare piece. However, they pass muster not too badly for the conossieur of Haydn's works for the operatic stage.
This recording is unlikely to appeal to anyone but the afficiondo.
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