OP1661. ZANETTO (Mascagni), recorded 2007, w.Tiboris Cond. Bohusalv Martinu Phil.; Jennifer Larmore & Eilana Lappalaian; Intermezzi from L’Amico Fritz & Cavalleria. Elysium GRK 727, w.Libretto. - 616892956822
"If Zanetto’s music comes off better, probably the credit goes to Jennifer Larmore’s handsome tone and restrained characterization."
- Chris Mullins, OPERA TODAY
“Pietro Mascagni wrote two one-act operas: CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and ZANETTO. We know that he conducted the two together in 1902 at the old Metropolitan Opera House.
ZANETTO is only about 40 minutes long, and the plot, taken from a French play THE PASSER-BY – once a signature rôle of the great Sarah Bernhardt – has been sunnified and lightened up in an Italian style. It involves a lonely, aging courtesan (Sylvia) who has nonetheless obtained some fame and notoriety because of her great charm and beauty, lamenting the fact that true love has perhaps passed her by. Enter Zanetto, a young singer who is coming into Florence (in a renaissance-era setting), perhaps the answer to the dream that Sylvia has had of a young Florentine. He arrives and falls asleep, whereupon Sylva spots him and begins a dialog with him. Zanetto speaks of the famous courtesan Sylvia, though she never does reveal to him that she is indeed the one of whom he is speaking. Ultimately, moved by the young man and flattered over his desire to meet this famous woman, Sylvia disparages herself to him, suggesting for various reasons that he should avoid meeting this fallen woman at all costs. The boy takes her meaning, and says that he will have no intention of seeking her out, and moves on. Sylvia, happy that she is still capable of feeling pure and true love, breaks into tears at the thought of real love lost.
The composer opens the work with a masterly stroke: a wordless chorus of great beauty, and indeed the whole opera is a lyrical gem, full of wonderful moments, surely worthy of a listen by any dedicated opera fan.”
– Steven Ritter, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION
“Pietro Mascagni wrote two one-act operas: CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and ZANETTO. Only 40 minutes long and with cast of two singers, Zanetto was originally described by its composer as a scena lirica (lyric scene) rather than an opera. It is set in the countryside near Florence during the Renaissance and tells the story of an encounter between a beautiful courtesan, Silvia, and a young wandering minstrel, Zanetto. The libretto was adapted from an Italian translation by Emilio Praga of François Coppée's play LE PASSANT (The passer-by) in which the young Sarah Bernhardt had won fame in the en travesti rôle of Zanetto. We know that Mascagni conducted the two together in 1902 at the old Metropolitan Opera House.
The work was performed throughout Italy in smaller theatres during the year following its première. It was also performed in a private performance in London by the Ravogli sisters, Sofia and Giulia in 1896. ZANETTO had its US première on 8 October 1902 at the old Metropolitan Opera House conducted by Mascagni with Elena Bianchini-Cappelli as Silvia and Eugenia Mantelli as Zanetto. As at La Scala, the reception was mixed. The New York Times critic pronounced the music as ‘sonorous, mellifluous, and melodious’ and praised the performances of Bianchini-Cappelli and Mantelli, but concluded that ‘outside of Italy, ZANETTO can never become more than a mild curtain-raiser’.”
“Jennifer Larmore is an outstanding American mezzo soprano who parlayed operatic success in Europe into international stardom during the 1990s. Known for excelling in the coloratura roles of Rossini and Handel, she has also moved into the early nineteenth century bel canto repertory, as well as the operas of Mozart and Richard Strauss. Especially since 2000, Larmore has been a very active recitalist, and she has recorded widely for the Harmonia Mundi, Teldec, and Deutsche Grammophon labels.
Larmore studied at the Westminster Choir College, and then privately with John Bullock and Regina Resnik. She made her professional début at Santa Barbara's Music Academy of the West as Rosina in Rossini's THE BARBER OF SEVILLE -- appropriate, considering that Rosina has since become her signature role, one that she has performed more than 500 times. Three years later, a last-minute audition led to a contract at the Nice Opéra. There, her vocal talents, energetic acting, and natural beauty quickly established her as an emerging star, and during the next decade she performed dozens of leading roles with major European houses. In the mid-'90s Larmore returned to the United States, making her Chicago Lyric Opera début in 1993, winning the prestigious Richard Tucker award in 1994, and débuting as Rosina at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995. Since then she has been a regular attraction at the Met, singing everything from Handel's GIULIO CESARE to Humperdinck's HÄNSEL UND GRETEL. With her frequent collaborator Antoine Palloc, she has made several international recital tours, including appearances in Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Hong Kong, and London, as well as most major American cities.
Larmore's GIULIO CESARE on Harmonia Mundi (with René Jacobs),’L'étoile’, a collection of French arias, and’Call Me Mister’, a celebration of mezzo soprano ‘pants’ roles, are notable among her recordings. A particularly unique venture has been her satellite radio program ‘Backstage with Jennifer Larmore’, on which she proves herself a witty and insightful interviewer and commentator.”
- Allen Schrott, allmusic.com