Il Re and Mese Mariano

Review by: Robert Levine

Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 7

Here are two rarities: Just to put them into perspective with regard to Giordano’s career, his great hit, Andrea Chenier, was produced in 1896; the “lyrical sketch in one act” Mese Mariano came in l910 and Il Re, his final opera, 19 years after that.

Mese Mariano is a 35 minute work with a plot redolent of Puccini’s Suor Angelica – Carmela, a poor woman, was forced to give up her illegitimate child, who was later adopted by the church orphanage. The opera finds Carmela coming to visit her child after a period of a year but he has died the previous night; the nuns tell her a white lie: The child is in church, she has just missed him and will have to return another time. Carmela, sad but resigned, leaves a cake – now cold – for the boy, and departs. This amazingly saccharine tale is not as cloying to hear as to describe, and is quite moving in its simplicity. Patrizia Ciofi, with the only juicy role (Carmela) is very fine; the others back her up well.

Il Re is an hour long comedy about a young woman, Rosalina, betrothed to Colombello. One day she spots the King in all his finery and falls in love with him, calling off the wedding to Colombello. Through some machinations, she gets to meet the king in his chamber, but when he removes his crown and splendid garments, she realizes he is just an old man and returns to Colombello. The score is colorful and witty and Rosalina is written well, for a coloratura soprano with great expression, and Ciofi fits the bill. Colombello’s part is for a light tenor, and despite some strain, Panni is effective. The score lacks memorable tunes, but is worth hearing. This performance, like that of Mese Mariano, is nicely led. Perhaps this set is for Giordano completists; whatever the case, these two operas make a nice, if not exactly dazzling, evening’s listening.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

UMBERTO GIORDANO - Il Re; Mese Mariano

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