OP0115. ORFEO (Bertoni), recorded 1994, Zürich, w.Tschupp Cond. Aargauer Ensemble; Julia Juon, Jeannette Fischer & Steve Davislim. (Austria) Jecklin 700, w.55pp. Libretto-Brochure in German, Italian & English. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 742395170011
“Ferdinando Bertoni knew that he was tempting fate composing ORFEO ED EURIDICE, to the Calzabigi libretto famously set by Gluck and using the same castrato, Gaetano Guadagni, in the title-role. Seeking to cover himself in the preface to the score, he acknowledged that he had had Gluck’s opera in front of him while at work, adding that ‘those of fine, discriminating taste will recognise the difference in the results’.
In the scene between Orfeo and the Furies, and in the setting of ‘Che puro ciel!’ in the Elysian Fields, it’s not so much the differences as the blatant similarities - of rhythm, texture, even melodic contour - that strike the ear: a case of ‘call the lawyers’, had copyright protection existed in 1776. The crucial distinction is between talent and genius, between the effective (the Orfeo-Furies scene) or the prettily decorative (‘Che puro ciel!’) and the sublime. If you know the Gluck, Bertoni’s score in Acts 1 and 2, replete with jaunty minuet rhythms, is in danger of sounding like a pale palimpsest.
But approached with an innocent ear - near-impossible, of course, then and now - it is an appealing, well-crafted piece of work by a seasoned operatic professional. And in Act 3, where Gluck’s invention is less consistently inspired, Bertoni paradoxically seems more individual, especially in the duet and the impassioned minor-key aria for Euridice. With Orfeo’s ‘Che farò’ it’s inevitably an unequal contest, though the emotional level rises sharply after the tripping gavotte opening.”
- Richard Wigmore, GRAMOPHONE