Ivanhoé van Rossini: een heerlijke pasticcio


In 1826 was pasticcio al over zijn hoogtepunt heen. Deze operavorm, zeer geliefd in de achttiende eeuw was eigenlijk niet meer dan een samenraapsel van verschillende aria’s, duetten en ensembles uit diverse opera’s; niet noodzakelijk beperkt tot één componist

Gioacchino Rossini behoorde tot de grote liefhebbers – en gebruikers – van dit genre. Niet zelden hergebruikte hij dezelfde (orkestrale)stukken en soms zelfs de complete aria’s in zijn ‘gewone’ opera’s. Deze bekwaamheid kwam hem goed van pas toen hij, eenmaal succesvol in Parijs in tijdnood kwam. Geholpen door Pacini, zijn Parijse uitgever ‘componeerde’ hij Ivanhoé een opera die samengesteld werd uit fragmenten uit zijn verschillende werken, waaronder Semiramide en La Cenerentola.

Het libretto was losjes gebaseerd op een in die tijd zeer succesvolle roman van Walter Scott. Dat het verhaal mager en in feite niet na te vertellen is, is eigenlijk onbelangrijk want de muziek doet wonderen. Het is ook een bijzonder aanstekelijk samenraapsel geworden, vol schitterende aria’s en duetten. De première op 15 september 1826 was zeer succesvol en het Parijse publiek stroomde toe.

Na jaren van in totale vergetelheid te zijn geraakt, werd Ivanhoe gepresenteerd tijdens het festival in Martina Franca, in juli 2001. Dat de uitvoering niet helemaal optimaal was doet er eigenlijk niet toe en ik ben Dynamic zeer erkentelijk voor de opname die ze er live van hebben gemaakt.

Gioacchino Rossini
Simon Edwards, Inga Balabanova, Soon-Won Kang, Filippo Morace
Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia olv Paolo Arrivabeni
Dynamic CDS 397/1-2

It all started with Paganini: DYNAMIC celebrates its fortieth birthday

DynamicThe genesis of Dynamic can be read as a real fairy tale. The label was founded  forty years ago by Pietro Mosetti Casaretto (1925-2012), a violin-playing surgeon with an enormous passion for classical music. Initially, only chamber music works were recorded, all performed by the many friends (including Salvatore Accardo and Bruno Cannino) of the founder.

Mosetti Casaretto, a sincere admirer of violin music in general and of Paganini in particular, set himself the goal of recording Paganini’s complete oeuvre, which he more or less succeeded in doing. The catalogue mentions 35 Paganini titles, many of them performed on the famous violin of the composer/virtuoso.

In 1996, however, there was a turnaround: Dynamic signed a cooperation contract with the opera festival in Martina Franca. With live recordings of weird and unknown operas and of lesser known versions of Macbeth and Lucia di Lammermoor, for example, Dynamic quickly became popular among opera lovers.

Nowadays they also work with other (small) Italian opera houses, such as Teatro La Fenice (Venice), Teatro Lirico di Cagliari and Teatro Regio di Parma. The company initially focused mainly on DVDs, nowadays all titles are offered on both DVD and CD.

With a few different titles, chosen by myself mainly for their high rarity, I settled down on the couch: the party could begin. What struck me immediately was that most of the operas were directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi. Coincidence?

Dynamic Pizzi

Pier Luigi Pizzi © Studio Amati Bacciardi

According to Stefano Olcese (production supervisor), it had indeed been pure coincidence at first. “But”, he adds, “Pizzi was so enthusiastic about what we were doing that he wanted us to join him when he directed another opera”. And so it happened.

I’ll start right away with two Pizzi operas – productions for which he also designed the costumes and sets.


Les Pêcheurs de Perles (Bizet)

Dynamic parelvissers

A production with a lot of ballet, and that bothers me a lot. When yet another dancer floats through the famous duet and thus hides the singing gentlemen from my eyes, I want to give up and read a book.

Yet it won’t let me go, so I watch again. I don’t regret it, although it is still hard for me to persevere. The blame lies mainly (except for the ballet) with the tenor: Yasu Nakajima is mainly meaningless and superficial. Too bad.

But Annick Massis is a truly enchanting Léïla. Only in her place I had chosen the baritone (good Luca Grassi). All in all: provided you do not hate ballet, it is a reasonable recording of that opera on DVD.

Below Annick Massis and Yasu Nakajima in ‘O Dieu Brama!


Hans Heiling (Marschner)

Dynamic Hans Heiling

Somewhat hesitantly I started Hans Heiling. Never before did I hear it, let alone see it. From Marschner I only knew Les Vampyrs. Besides: after all the hassle with the ballet in Les Pêcheurs de Perles I fear the worst. Well, that was a surprise! I immediately recognized Pizzi: his predilection for colour (mainly red in all its shades), excesses and physicality is evident here too, but it really works here.

Hans Heiling (Jan Svatos in Czech) was a legendary king of spirits, his name is often found in Czech and German legends. He falls in love with an earthly girl and swears off his magic power to marry her.

However, she is in love with an ordinary boy and rejects him. Disillusioned (only a man can try his luck on earth) Heiling returns to his underground kingdom. A male equivalent of Rusalka, but without the tragic end.

There is insanely good singing and acting, there is not a single weak role. I already knew how formidable Anna Caterina Antonacci can be, but the (also to the eye) very attractive Markus Werba is a true discovery. Very exciting and dazzling. Recommended.

Below a fragment of the production:


Alfonso und Estrella (Schubert)

Dynamic Schubert

Another surprise! I love it: a romantic fairy tale about an old king, who is thrown off the throne by his rival, and about his son who falls in love with the daughter of his father’s rival.

After some complications (there is also a real bad guy) everything goes well: Alfonso and Estrella get married and the old king gets his throne back, which he then promptly hands over in favour of the young couple. And there is also a moral: a really big man forgives his enemies.

The music is very beautiful. No, it’s not a masterpiece, but still … it’s unmistakably Schubert. There are a few incredibly beautiful ballads: a song by Froila about the cloud girl, for example. Or a touching ‘Wo ist sie’ by Mauregato, who thinks he has lost his daughter.

Eva Mei, Rainer Trost, Alfred Muff, Markus Werba and Jochen Schmeckenbacher play and sing exceptionally well, and I also think the staging (directed by Luca Ronconi) is a great success. In a setting of string instruments only, the opera is played out two-dimensionally: on stage and on the platform behind it, where puppets play the scenes.

In the first act the singers are dressed in evening dress (suggesting a song recital?), in the second and third act they wear period costumes from the region  (Spain in the eighteenth century).

Like Hans Heiling, the piece was performed in 2004 in Cagliari, an opera house that is not afraid of unknown repertoire.

More Dynamic (a selection):
Il Matrimonio segreto, a somewhat forgotten niemendalletje

In Dutch:
Het begon met Paganini… Dynamic viert zijn veertigste verjaardag

Translated with