Composed for Venice in 1837, just a year-and-a-half after the fantastic success of Lucia di Lammermoor, Pia de' Tolomei "pleased altogether", in the composer's words. He revised it a couple of times thereafter and it was shown at various theaters as distant as Malta until 1855, after which it disappeared. It takes place in 13th-century Siena: Pia is married to Nello; his cousin Ghino loves her but she refuses his advances. Ghino angrily accuses Pia of adultery with an unknown man, who turns out to be Pia's brother, Rodrigo, and Nello imprisons her. Ghino eventually feels remorse and confesses his deception, but not soon enough to save Pia from being poisoned by Nello.
Julia Lezhneva, Franco Fagioli and Diego Fasolis: three stars of the Baroque unite to record Vivaldi’s most popular choral work.
This tragicomedy was apparently the greatest success of Giovanni Paisiello’s career, some claim considering that he wrote around 90 operas and that his Barbiere di Siviglia both inspired Mozart to produce Le nozze di Figaro as a sequel and caused later audiences to criticise Rossini for daring to tackle the same subject. Although Paisiello (1740-1816) is interesting enough to deserve some attention today, his musical accomplishments are more reminiscent of Cimarosa than anyone else. He did, however, enjoy a colourful life, and served European rulers as diverse as Catherine the Great and Napoleon. When Nina was first performed at La Scala, the title role was taken by none other than Floria Tosca, the singer who was later to inspire Sardou and Puccini.
In honor of the Tito Gobbi centenary (in 2013), the Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi has unearthed and released this Otello, performed in the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice, in August 1966. While technical challenges involved in broadcasting a production back in the '60s, from a venue not designed for theater, caused occasional problems involving camera work and sound, the resulting black-and-white video is well worth having, particularly for Gobbi's brilliant Iago. Although an earlier Gobbi Iago is available from VAI, filmed in Japan in 1959 opposite Mario Del Monaco's titanic Moor, this later document finds the extraordinary baritone no less nimble physically and vocally. In fact, the vastness of the performing area and the evocative atmosphere of the Palazzo Ducale seem to draw from Gobbi a sort of ownership of the environment that is perfect for Iago, as he darts about controlling events like a sardonic puppeteer.
Abbado's Verdi recordings are some of the finest available and this Requiem recording is no expection. Abbado takes a less ferocious approach than say Muti, or Barenboim, balancing the dramatic moments effectively against the more introspective aspects of the score. Ricciarelli is in fine form here, singing with a fine sense of line and intense emotional declamation. Her intonation is perfect. Verrett blends seamlessly with Ricciarelli, making the most of their duet and capturing the intense sadness of much of the writing quite well. Domingo, in his first recording of the part, provides a steady stream of golden tone, effortlessly produced. His emotional temperature runs about right here - not overly dramatic - after all, this is not Aida - but strong feelings kept on a tight rein. Ghiaurov is phenomenal. His gigantic bass somehow anchoring the entire quartet and chorus into an imposing yet gorgeous Verdian soundscape. There are many excellent Verdi Requiem recordings - this is surely one of the very best.