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Bellini: La straniera / Parry, Ciofi, Shkosa, Hall, Schmunck, Stone, Wood, Broadbent, London PO, et al

Album Summary

>Bellini, Vincenzo : La Straniera, opera
Performers Conductor Ensemble
  • >
Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Three of Bellini's operas - 'La Sonnambula' and 'Norma' (both 1831) and his last work, 'I Puritani' (1835) - remain classics of the bel canto repertoire, yet the slightly earlier 'La Straniera' (The Stranger) remains curiously neglected. In fact, this highly romantic melodrama, first staged at La Scala in 1829, was initially a success and only fell from grace when the bel canto style itself became unfashionable. The score points forward to Bellini's greatest works and features superb dramatic writing. Opera Rara's cast boasts singers with the vocal skills and dramatic insight to enliven this neglected masterpiece of romantic opera, which has been lost to Bellini fans for far too long.

Gramophone Magazine
This... is the first studio recording of the work, and Opera Rara has done it proud. David Parry leads the LPO in a gripping account of a tricky piece. Patrizia Ciofi is meltingly pathetic and then imperious when necessary. Dario Schmunck makes a virile and ardent Arturo, and in the crucial role of Valdeburgo... Mark Stone is suitably warrior-like. The contribution of the Geoffrey Mitchell Choir are splendid. A must for lover of the bel canto repertory.

BBC Music Magazine
Opera Rara has fielded what is probably as good an ensemble of young singers as you are likely to be able to gather together for this early work; and David Parry coaxes some stylish playing from the London Philharmonic Orchestra...

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
La straniera was Bellini's fourth opera, first performed at La Scala in February 1829. During the composer's lifetime, and for a few years after his death in 1835, it enjoyed considerable international success, though contemporary reviewers were sometimes hostile, criticising its lack of set-piece arias and complaining of the 'continual interruptions' to the musical line. It is this that strikes the modern listener as one of the most interesting aspects of the score. Bellini was experimenting with something, if not exactly through-composed, then sacrificing vocal fireworks for the sake of the dramatic structure. The libretto concerns the woes of the exiled Queen of France, Agnese, who is obliged to live incognito in Brittany as Alaide - 'The Stranger'. She spends the whole opera refusing to tell anyone, including her beloved Arturo, who she really is. When he at last finds out - at his wedding to another woman - he stabs himself to death at the Queen's feet. It is a blood-andthunder piece of gothic melodrama, with the inevitable courtroom scene in which the heroine is wrongly accused.

Renata Scotto, Montserrat Caballé and Elena Souliotis have sung the work but this set is the first studio recording of the work, and Opera Rara has done it proud. David Parry leads the LPO in a gripping account of a tricky piece.

Patrizia Ciofi is meltingly pathetic and then imperious when necessary. Dario Schmunck makes a virile and ardent Arturo, and in the crucial role of Valdeburgo (also in disguise, he is Agnese's brother), Mark Stone is suitably warrior- like. In the rather ungrateful role of the 'other woman', Enkelejda Shkosa gets quite a jolly little rondo towards the end of Act 2. Among the other highlights are a catchy hunters' chorus and the trio in which the two men fight for the stranger's affection. The scene in Act 1, when they both end up in the lake apparently drowning, is a rousing finale. The contributions of the Geoffrey Mitchell Choir are splendid. A must for lovers of the bel canto repertory.

The Guardian
Bellini's decision to replace his usual flexible coloratura with something more altogether angular leads, however, to a score that his contemporaries considered radical...Made in tandem with Opera Rara's revival last November, the recording makes a strong case for the work.



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Works Details

>Bellini, Vincenzo : La Straniera, opera
  • Performers: Roland Wood (Baritone); Roland Wood (Voice); Enkelejda Shkosa (Mezzo Soprano); Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano); Graeme Broadbent (Baritone); Dario Schmunck (Tenor); Aled Hall (Tenor); Ian Hardwick (Oboe); Mark Stone (Voice)
  • Conductor: David Parry
  • Running Time: 5 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1829