OP1737. CATERINA CORNARO (Donizetti), Live Performance, 28 May, 1972, Napoli, w.Cillario Cond. Teatro San Carlo Ensemble; Leyla Gencer, Giacomo Aragall, Renato Bruson, etc.; LUCREZIA BORGIA – Excerpts, Live Performance, 4 Oct., 1971, Bergamo, w.Leyla Gencer & Umberto Grilli. (E.U.) 2-Myto 0005. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 3830257900054
“CATERINA CORNARO is one of the more obscure Donizetti operas; there have, however, been several recordings. This performance was released on LP by MRF. Shortly afterwards, MRF released another recording featuring Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras. On a Phoenix CD another performance featuring Caballé and Giacomo Aragall was released.
Caterina Cornaro was a historical figure born in Venice in 1454; at the age of 14, she was contracted to marry James de Lusigan, who was the king of Cyprus. They were married four years later in 1472. James died within the year of the marriage from an illness, not in battle, as portrayed in the opera. The story of Caterina Cornaro inspired several operas, Lachner’s CATHARINA CORNARO , Halévy’s LA REINE DE CHYPRE , Balfe’s THE DAUGHTER OF ST. MARKS , which was issued on LP by Rare Recorded Editions, and Pacini’s LA REGINA DI CIPRO.
This performance of CATERINA CORNARO was reviewed in OPERA by Enrico Tellini. He said that it was one of the most important happenings of the year. He wrote: ‘The title role was sung by Leyla Gencer who was in glorious voice. Giacomo Aragall sang with enthusiasm and clear pronunciation, while Renato Bruson was so elegant in his phrasing that his singing appeared a lesson’. Tellini was less enthusiastic about Plinio Clabassi, but I admire him. However, I certainly agree with Tellini in regard to the other singers. Carlo Felice Cillario’s conducting is excellent.
CATERINA CORNARO was premiered on January 18, 1844. It was not a success. The last 19th-century performance was at Parma on February 2, 1845. This performance was the first revival of the opera since that date. In FANFARE 10:5, Anthony D. Coggi reviewed the recording issued on Rodolphe featuring Montserrat Caballé, Giacomo Aragall, and Ryan Edwards. (That performance was also issued on CD by Phoenix.) In his review he stated that this Gencer/Aragall/Bruson performance was superior, although at that time it was only on LP. While this is not one of Donizetti’s best operas, it does have striking moments, and is certainly well worth having. The audience is loud and enthusiastic; there is much applause and shouts of bravo.
Since CATERINA CORNARO is a short opera, there are 14 bonus tracks from a live performance of LUCREZIA BORGIA given in October 1971. Both Gencer and Grilli are very good in their roles.”
- Bob Rose, FANFARE