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27.9.06

Caprice Corrected

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Vicente Martín y Soler, La Capricciosa Corretta, Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset (released on May 18, 2004)
After a well-known collaboration with Mozart, librettist Lorenzo da Ponte was driven out of Vienna, settling in London for a short period before ending up in New York. While in London, he wrote the libretto for La Capricciosa Corretta, o sia la scuola de' maritati, an opera composed for the soprano Anna Bosello Morichelli. In a few weeks, da Ponte worked directly with the composer Vicente Martín y Soler, who came to London from St. Petersburg to do the work, to adapt the text to music. The opera was premiered to audience acclaim in Janury 1795 and then reprised, in constantly changing forms, in theaters in Italy and elsewhere for many years afterward. For this recording, Christophe Rousset had to sift through many layers of revisions, in an attempt to recreate the work as it was given at the London premiere.

The opera reminds me of Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto (Vienna, 1792), made during the same period and also benefitting from what Mozart had done with Italian comic opera, in particular, with the treatment of ensembles. It is hardly a work for the ages, but it has an entertaining story centered around a bitch on wheels (the eponymous capricious woman whose outrageous behavior against her husband and stepchildren must be corrected). The music is lifted out of a sometimes pedestrian style by a number of good arias and a few charming ensembles, like the laughing terzetto "Vadasi via di qua," from the end of Act I, a little minute-long trifle, for soprano and two baritones, that could make a nice encore piece for a group recital. You can listen to the first act online here, thanks to the folks at Naïve (track 25 for the terzetto).

This studio recording was made by the same forces that mounted the opera in a production at the Opéra de Lausanne in December 2002, Les Talens Lyriques and a cast of talented but relatively unknown singers. Quite appropriately, either music director Christophe Rousset or his colleague, Marie-Cécile Bertheau, accompanies the recitatives on pianoforte. The orchestra, tuned in the Vallotti temperament (a well-tempered rather than equal spacing of the scale) with A at 430, sounds its expected best, even the horns. The lovely soprano Marguerite Krull has a sound hovering between sweet and shrill as Ciprigna, the brazen second wife of Bonario (baritone Enrique Baquerizo). They have a funny duet scene in the second act, in which she pretends to want to make up but they end up hurling barbs at one another.

The family's two clever servants, Fiuta (baritone Josep Miquel Ramon) and Cilia (soprano Raffaella Milanesi), manage to solve their master's problem so that they can be married in peace (is this sounding familiar?). There are Mozart moments, Rossini-esque flavors (Ciprigna's big second act aria "La donna ha bello il core," a cabaletta-like polacca), a pleasant duet for two baritones ("In questo secolo," for Bonario and Don Giglio, Ciprigna's lover, in Act II), and an ultimate scheme involving the servant Fiuta disguised as an oriental ambassador straight out of Molière (the ambassador names himself "Irco Berlico, nephew of Alibec, Scanderbec, Salamalec"). The Act II finale is a series of pleasing numbers, in the confusion of the night to frighten and chastise Ciprigna into submission, including a janissary march for the final appearance of the oriental ambassador. The whole thing is over in 2 hours and 15 minutes, which might make this an attractive option for collegiate productions or small opera companies (eight roles, with no chorus) looking for something off the beaten path. Contact Christophe Rousset for information about using the edition he put together. Hooray, musicology!

naïve E 8887

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