Leading director Richard Jones staged his witty, darkly comic realization of Gianni Schicchi for The Royal Opera in 2007. The production was revived in 2012 and here he completes the trio with two new productions of Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica. Antonio Pappano conducts an acclaimed cast including Eva-Maria Westbroek, Ermonela Jaho, Lucio Gallo, Elena Zilio and rising star Francesco Demuro. “A triumph…three wonderfully directed and expertly acted productions. Add in Pappano's impeccable conducting and his valuable introductions to the pieces, and you have a nigh-on ideal Trittico.” BBC Music Magazine
The Opera Rara label devotes itself to just what the name says, not only recording rare operas, but also mounting them in well-financed productions. They've excavated works that promise to reshape the operatic repertory some, and so it may be with this work by Ruggero Leoncavallo, which he preferred to the ubiquitous I Pagliacci. It offers a pure verismo story, featuring the titular character, a French music-hall singer who gets involved in a doomed affair with a married Parisian businessman.
This is the second solo outing for Peruvian-born bel canto tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who, at the age of 30, is garnering high acclaim for his clear, loud voice and secure confidence, on-stage charisma, and outstanding sense of vocal expressiveness. Una furtima lagrima, indeed, is an earnest, earthy, easily accessible disc of arias, choral ensembles, and scenes drawn from works of Bellini and Donizetti. On this beautifully recorded Decca disc Flórez is helped out by the Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, conductor Riccardo Frizza, and vocal artists covering other roles in these operatic "bleeding chunks" including Nikola Mijailovic, Nicola Uliveri, and Ermonela Jaho. Rather than giving the impression of a presentation of fragmentary excerpts, this disc succeeds in being a celebration of the works of its composers with Flórez as the center of attention. Listening to this, one is tempted to draw a comparison of Flórez to mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli in that he prefers the lighter Classical and pre-Romantic repertoire over the heavier and more vocally taxing fare found in more mainstream composers such as Verdi and Puccini. This factor has pushed Bartoli further back into the Baroque and toward obscure works that have benefited her particular brand of artistry, much to the acclaim of Bartoli's legions of fans and critics alike. One wonders what will be the future course that Flórez will take, but for now this disc is an entirely satisfying blend of not-necessarily-all-that-familiar Bellini and Donizetti with a "hit" or two. Bravo Flórez! Bravo Decca! This is an unqualified triumph.–Dave Lewis