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Mascagni Amica

Anna Malavasi, David Sotgiu, Pierluigi Dilengite, Marcello Rosiello & Francesca De Giorgi
Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia & Slovak Chamber Choir, Manlio Benzi (conductor) & Pavel Procházka (director)

Filmed at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy, 4–6 August 2007

Naxos DVD 2.110262

Here is an interesting rarity, a ‘dramatic poem in two acts’ set in the Savoy mountains around 1900.

Two brothers, Giorgio and Rinaldo, vie for the love of Amica unknowing, to eventual final tragedy. Initially a triumph, it lapsed into neglect and failed dismally with empty houses in Rome, October 2008.

This is quite a modest staging from the previous year, a new production filmed at Martina Franca, Italy. Not great, and even on DVD you need to supplement what you see with your own imagination, but maybe worth collecting.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See Music Web's review of this production on CD: " - - The musical riches of this opera demand a hearing. - - The present recording has all the bangs and thumps we expect from a live theatre production but is technically more than acceptable. The likelihood of another version seems remote. It has been claimed as 'a treasure-house of wonderful music which is in abeyance because the singers with the heft to cope with them are a lost breed'. This is not the only recording which seems to prove them right on both counts. [Christopher Howell]

But an Amazon reviewer warns: "- - old-fashioned in its stage direction, with much flinging-of-arms & endless pacing to-and-fro - - The singing on this DVD is barely acceptable, & this production is also weakened by an ugly backdrop to the first of the opera's two acts. According to the original stage directions, we should see "mountains & fields in the distance"; instead, we're confronted with batches of linens hanging from clotheslines. The only thing recommending this DVD's existence & purchase is that it provides a rare opportunity to see & hear a (justifiably) forgotten opera by a composer who wrote one masterpiece in his mid-20s & spent the rest of his life unsuccessfully & frustratingly trying to write another. With Amica, he didn't come close."