OP0459. AMICA (Mascagni), recorded 1996, w.Marco Pace Cond. Hungarian Radio & TV Ensemble; Katia Ricciarelli, Fabio Armiliato, Walter Donati, Elia Padovan & Monica Minarelli. (Italy) 2-Kicco Classic 00296, w.Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8016292700131
“Mascagni’s ‘poème dramatique en deux actes’ had its première in Monte Carlo on 16 March 1905, with Geraldine Farrar in the leading role. An Italian version was immediately staged in Rome. I presume that the [first] recording of this brief opera, recorded in Budapest in 1995 under Marco Pace.
If beginnings were everything this opera would be at least as good as DAS RHEINGOLD. If, a bit more logically, we compare Mascagni’s dawn with Puccini’s prelude to Act III of TOSCA, we must surely recognize the difference between the inspired natural poet and the cunning purveyor of effects.
The trouble with the cunning purveyor of effects is, they work so damn well. I’m prepared to give Mascagni the benefit of the doubt over his daybreak prelude, however. This deeply poetic opening sets the stage for what is ostensibly a rustic village wedding in the foothills of the Piedmont Alps. In a series of dances and general invitations to merriment we may note the inventiveness of Mascagni’s orchestral colouring and his continual veering away from the stereotyped music which could so easily have been called upon for such a situation…. All the action is underpinned by powerful orchestral writing, basically a continuation of the intermezzo. We may appreciate the mastery of his orchestral backdrop, which in its motivic interest, thematic entwining and variegated colour places Mascagni firmly among the Middle-European post-romantics. Post-romantic, too, is the somewhat acidic tinge to the vocal lines….While I think this opera may be musically a masterpiece - it certainly exhibits rare mastery. If we are reminded of Puccini, it is more likely to be the later Puccini of LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST, where he, too, began to head in this same direction. It has become a truism among Mascagni lovers that his post-Cavalleria operas are a treasure-house of wonderful music which is in abeyance because the singers with the heft to cope with them are a lost breed.”
- Christopher Howell, musicweb-international