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Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857-1919): Zazà / Ermonela Jaho, Stephen Gartner, Riccardo Massi, Patricia Bardon, Kathryn Rudge, Fflur Wyn, Simon Thorpe, Nicky Spence, Christopher Turner, Julia Ferri

Album Summary

>Leoncavallo, Ruggero : Zazà, opera
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Leoncavallo's Zazą is based on the hit play of the same name by Pierre Breton and Charles Simon. They story centers around Zazą, a Parisian music hall singer, and it traces the collapse of her relationship after she discovers her lover is married. Featuring infectious dance tunes and colorful orchestration, it is a far cry from the harsh, low-life realism of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. Yet, where the composer's first opera remains one of the most performed operatic works today, Zazą has all but fallen out of the repertory - despite several film adaptations including a 1923 version starring Gloria Swanson. Opera Rara's revival of Zazą is based on Leoncavallo's own 1919 revision of his score which has been carefully researched by Italian opera specialist, Maurizio Benini. He leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra in their third collaboration with Opera Rara. Taking on the challenging soprano role for the first time is Ermonela Jaho who is joined by Riccardo Massi as her lover Milio, Stephen Gaertner as her onstage partner and former lover Cascart and Patricia Bardon as her mother Anaide.

BBC Music Magazine, July 2016
In this recording of the composer's revised 1919 version of the accomplished score, conductor Maurizio Benini brings a light touch to his micro-management of BBC forces. Ermonela Jaho offers full emotional commitment, seizing the title role's considerable opportunities. She's finely partnered by Riccardo Massi as the duplicitous Milio, with Stephen Gaertner focused as her worldly-wise stage-partner Cascart.

Gramophone Magazine, July 2016
[Jaho's voice] captures the character's emotions powerfully... Massi sings with wonderful, old-school charm... Gaertner is eloquent and touching as Cascart... Bardon offers a vividly over-the-top performance as Anaide... Benini conducts with an easy feel for the score's shifting moods and the BBC Symphony Orchestra play with real charm and affection. Fascinating, and recommended.

Opera Now, June 2016
[Jaho] surmounts every challenge...In fact, I can't think of another soprano today who suffers with such intensity. Riccardo Massi matches her well as the inevitable cad who ruins it all, and Stephen Gaertner uses his firm baritone to beautiful effect as Cascart...verismo might not be fashionable but it packs a punch, and Zaza is rather wonderful.

Sunday Times, 22nd May 2016
It's a perfect vehicle for Ermonela Jaho...With her impassioned lyricism tempered by a hint of steel, she brings Zaza as vividly to life as she did Puccini's tragic nun...the finest of the other singers is the American baritone Stephen Gaertner, as Zaza's ex and singing partner, Cascart...vividly and idiomatically conducted by Benini.

The Guardian, 9th June 2016
In the concert last autumn, after which this studio recording was made, Ermonela Jaho gave a dazzling performance as Zaza...On disc Jaho is just as good, and Zaza's character comes through vividly... Benini's pacy conducting makes the BBCSO sound stylish and sumptuous.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: BBC Maida Vale Studios, London (11/2015).


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Works Details

>Leoncavallo, Ruggero : Zazà, opera
  • Performers: Patricia Bardon (Mezzo Soprano); Julia Ferri (Voice); Stephen Gaertner (Voice); Ermonela Jaho (Mezzo Soprano); Riccardo Massi (Tenor); Kathryn Rudge (Voice); Nicky Spence (Flute); David Stout (Voice); Simon Thorpe (Baritone); Christopher Turner (Voice); Fflur Wyn (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Maurizio Benini
  • Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 1 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1900