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Giacomo Orefice: Chopin
- Opera In 4 Acts

Chopin - Steven Harrison
Elio - Mariusz Godlewski
Flora - Ewa Vesin
Mnich - Damian Konieczek
Stella - Evgeniya Kuznetsova

Opera Wrocławska/ Ewa Michnik
Gracjan Szymczak - piano

DUX 0775

Novelty of the year? A unique opera by a successful composer, Giacomo Orefice 1865 – 1922, who had a repertoire of orchestral and chamber works, besides some ten operas to his name.

Long obsessed with Chopin, his opera (four tableaux through the seasons) incorporates many favourite piano works, some for sole piano, others with orchestral accompaniments and the body of the work sung operatically. Chopin himself used to recommend his pupils to "sing at the piano and there have been studies of his embodiment of 'language stress' [Krysztof Bilica] which makes the melodies so singable.

The very interesting notes are given in English, but the actual text only in Italian and Polish.

For me it was a case of recognising all the excerpts from works I knew well, but their context somehow blocked naming them easily; but that may be just my problem.

Whatever, this is a really exciting discovery, and I wonder which of our music colleges/academies will grasp the nettle and give "Chopin" as a combined exercise to involve their piano, orchestra and vocal/operatic departments.

Performance and recording here are fine, with good singing & a splendid Chopin pianist. If you have the chance, sample the 3rd Act with memories of a journey to Majorca, struggle against nature at sea, and the death of a young girl in the storm...

Dramatic stuff.

Peter Grahame Woolf