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WOLF-FERRARI La Vedova scaltra

Rosaura – Anne-Lise Sollied
Milord Runebif – Maurizio Muraro
Monsieur Le Bleau – Emanuele D'Aguanno
Il Conte di Bosco Nero – Mark Milhofer
Don Alvaro di Castiglia – Riccardo Zanellato
Marionette – Elena Rossi
Arlecchino – Alex Esposito
Birif – Claudio Zancopè
Folletto – Luca Favaron
Un servo di Don Alvaro – Antonio Casagrande
Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro la Fenice, Venice/ Karl Martin
Massimo Gasparon, stage director

Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Italy, February 2007

Naxos DVD 2.110234-35

There's not a great deal to read about Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948), the composer of Il segreto di Susanna and others based on Goldoni including this one, The cunning widow (1931). Groves Dictionary of Opera complains that the plot is rather slight, inferior to his 2 other Goldoni operas and draws attention to the Spanish music associated with Don Alvaro. The successful suitor (the tenor, of course) is the one who doesn't respond to temptaion by a decoy organised by Rosaura, and opportunities are taken for gentle parody of the music and manners of several nations.

It is greatly enjoyable in this Venice production last year, about which I have not located reviews at the time. The singing is fully adequate, but what makes this DVD is the sharp filming of a very intelligent and inventive staging by Massimo Gasparon, with national stereotypes guyed in observant choregraphy on the small stage of this intimate theatre where we saw the premiere of Luis de Pablo's La madre invita a comer in 1993.

A fuller review may follow, but meanwhile a warm welcome to this double-DVD and see also our recommendation of Sly, composed in a conservative, Puccini-like verismo idiom in 1927, a gutsy, live recording from Barcelona (2000) of a Zurich Opera House production, with José Carrera leading a strong cast, with Sherrill Milnes implacable as a cruel, practical joking Earl [KOCH-SCHWANN 364492].

Peter Grahame Woolf