> Opera and Oratorio
La Fille du Régiment (in Italian)
Serra, Tagliasacchi; Matteuzzi, Dara; Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna/Campanella. Text, no translation. Nuova Era Internazionale 233007 (2)
To perform La Fille du Régiment as La Figlia del Reggimento — as was the practice in Italy, and sometimes elsewhere, for years — doesn't just change the work's language but transmutes its spirit. In French, the opera moves swiftly and pointedly, while allowing scope for broad comedy. Translated into Italian, with recitatives replacing the spoken dialogue, the music itself sounds painted in broader strokes, taking on the hearty demeanor of a full-fledged opera buffa.
In this 1989 performance from Bologna, the buffa style works when it's kept within reasonable bounds. Both Enzo Dara (Sulpizio) and Luciana Serra (Maria) know how to deploy a tactful parlando while maintaining a singing quality. The Marchesa di Berckenfield, as she is billed, is not a domineering battle-ax here; in Monica Tagliasacchi's performance, in fact, she's almost too reasonable. Unfortunately, the lesson scene in Act II is overlaid with antics including (deliberate) off-key singing and a variety of interpolated vocalizations, both sung and spoken, that clearly amused the audience that night but probably won't wear well on repeated hearings.
It's too bad, as the performance is otherwise strong. Three of the principals are familiar from recordings of the 1980s, and they are in good representative form. Serra sings the cantabiles sensitively, with a lovely legato, and brings crisp rhythmic address to the livelier passages. Her tone sounds rounder than in her studio outings, although the edge with which she attacks the acuti sometimes dominates them. William Matteuzzi doesn't shrink from Tonio's nine high Cs and other upward excursions, which are all solid, though they're whitish compared to his surprisingly warm midrange. Dara is a resonant, comparatively restrained Sulpizio.
Tagliasacchi is a pleasing Marchesa, singing firmly with a rich, fruity tone. Giancarlo Tosi's clear baritone creates a vivid Ortensio. Bruno Campanella conducts with style and draws attentive, characterful playing from the Teatro Comunale forces: the cello solo introducing "Convien partir" has a fine melancholy. The small-house acoustic renders the tuttis compactly; the string tone seems dry at first, but the ear quickly adjusts. The booklet design, with light-brown type on a beige background, is hard on the eyes.
STEPHEN FRANCIS VASTA