Sánchez (Ildegonda); José Bros (Rizzardo Mazzafiore); Carlos
Álvarez (Rolando Gualderano); Mariola Cantarero (Ildebene); Ángel
Rodríguez (Ermenegildo Falsabiglia); Stefano Palatchi (Roggiero
Gualderano); Coro & Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid; Jesús
López Cobos (Conductor)
The history, merits and limitations of Arrieta’s 1850 melodramma serio in two acts have been admirably laid out by Ignacio Jassa Haro, in his review of the concert which took place two days before RTVE recorded this repeat performance. Robbed of the visual stimulus, I can’t be quite so forgiving of Ildegonda’s conventional cut. Tasteful to a fault, there seems to me little here that couldn’t be found much more vividly done in late Donizetti (notably Lucia di Lammermoor) or early Verdi. If the young Arrieta never does anything to frighten the horses, then neither for one single moment does he spur them out of an ambling jog-trot. Apart from the diehard snobbery which insists that anything operatic must be superior to anything zarzueloid, there seems little reason to have dragged this particular dead horse back into the light of day.
Nor do the disembodied cast quite wow me in as they did Sr. Jassa in the flesh. Ana María Sánchez, impressively massive and controlled of voice but not taking easily to microphonic constraint, makes a powerful but somewhat strenuous effect. Carlos Álvarez is a strong but unsubtle father, Mariola Cantarero’s confidante is a capable study in anonymity. Only José Bros as the Edguardo-like Unsuitable Fiancé consistently thrills, agile and brightly focussed if tending to vocal monochrome. Jesús López Cobos and his orchestra do everything anybody could to inject pace and sustain theatricality, choral and comprimario support is admirable. But as bar succeeded predictable bar, I found myself wishing that a fraction of RTVE’s and the Teatro Real’s resources had been lavished on reviving a brace or so of Arrieta’s later, artistically much more mature Spanish zarzuelas, rather than the talented juvenile’s graduation exercise in Italian opera.
© Christopher Webber 2007