Saturday, November 20, 2010


  Radio New Zealand Concert network  
Sunday 21st of November 2010 at 3.04 - 6 pm


DONIZETTI: Parisina, an opera in three acts
(Opera Rara ORC 40)
Azzo............................. Dario Solari
Parisina......................... Carmen Giannattasio
Ugo.............................. José Bros
Ernesto......................... Nicola Ulivieri
Imelda........................... Ann Taylor
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, London Phil/David Parry

Parisina, full title Parasina d'Este, Donizetti's personal favourite among his operas, is here performed  in a concert of 6 December 2008 in London's Royal Festival Hall (see PICTURES above).

 One reviewer of this recording added:
"Article and synopsis by the eminent 19th century musical scholar, Jeremy Commons." That's our Jeremy in Wellington, who is still alive in the 21st century; removing the -al from musical might help rescue him from the 19th century, and moving scholar to the position after eminent and adding of would fix it.

Montserrat Caballé was in another concert performance of this opera, in Carnegie Hall in 1974, and she wowed the audience. Both recordings are available, and as this does not deserve to be classed as a "rare" opera I am tempted to  purchase them.

Opera on radio this Sunday is an opera rara in the series Opera Rara, but it is an opera that does not deserve to be rare, rarely heard and seen.

John Ward's local radio station (Gramophone Room 88.1 FM)  broadcasts this Opera Rara series on Tuesday nights; but if you do not live in Palmerston North, do not attempt to find it; reception is abysmal even here up on the hill, and tonight it was impossible to tune it in.

But on Sunday (that is, today, midnight has just struck on 21/11/2010) on RNZConcet network at 3 pm the opera is Donizetti's PARISINA, libretto by Felice (Felix) Romani, who did write felicitous words for operas. It is based on Byron's poem Parisina (1816).

Here is a tragic tale to make you weep. Young (H)Ugo and Parisina have grown up together, with deep affection, but she is forced into marriage with old Azzo, who is old enough to be her father; in fact (but actually in fiction, though the story is based on Parisina Malatesta, and she will have more than a "bad head" in the end) he is the father of Ugo, though none of them know that. So Ugo is in love with his stepmother (remember Verdi's Don Carlo). Azzo hears his wife murmuring the name Ugo in her sleep, so he is for the chop, or the sword, or choose your weapons. Azzo is told of Ugo's parentage, and you would think he would say, that makes everything different. But just as Parisina is preparing to run away with Ugo, Azzo presents his corpse to her. She dies of grief, instantly (no dagger or poison needed).