Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Die neugierigen Frauen (Le donne curiose)
Agnete Rasmussen (Rosaura), Viktorija Kaminskaite (Colombina), Violetta Radomirska (Eleonora), Kathrin Görig (Beatrice), Andreas Weller (Florindo), Jörg Schörner (Leandro), Kay Stiefermann (Pantalone), Peter Schöne (Lelio), Jürgen Linn (Ottavio), Hans Christoph Begemann (Arlecchino), Moon Yung Oh (Asdrubale), Theodor Weimer (Almoro), Bernhard Schneider (Allvise), Christof Hartkopf (Lunardo), Werner Rosenmüller (Momolo), Mattias Ettmayr (Menego), Leonhard Auenhammer (First Gondolier), Manuel Adt (Second Gondolier), Munich Madrigal Choir, Munich Radio Orchestra, Ulf Schirmer (Conductor)
Recording: Prinzregententheater, Munich, Germany (October 9, 2011) – 117’ 09
cpo # 777 739-2 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in German and English
Some will identify Die neugierigen Frauen more closely with the title of Le donne curiose since Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s second staged opera was originally slated for premiere in Venice. The opera buffa didn’t materialize in the composer’s home town and was, thus, translated into German and moved to Munich’s Residence Theater where it made its debut on November 27, 1903. Die neugierigen Frauen’s early introduction would help mold Wolf-Ferrari’s career creating successful works of a comical nature though he tried his hand in Mascagni-like verismo with little favor.
The opera’s English translation, “The Inquisitive Women” is just that: a band of wives attempting to determine secretive goings-on of their male counterparts inside a clubhouse. To the women’s embarrassment, the only transgression is discovering the men’s gastronomic gourmandizing. It’s a silly little plot, yet a great opportunity to have Wolf-Ferrari respectfully reflect upon inflections of past notable composers. Wolf-Ferrari used stock characters from the commedia dell’arte to his advantage that were similarly templated in his later 1931 opera La vedova scaltra (Read here).
Ulf Schirmer leads sprite-like investitures of oboe, cor anglais and bassoon, akin to the “Wind Concertinos”, in the “Overture” with its easily recognizable theme. Agnete Rasmussen’s Rosaura and Kathrin Göring’s Beatrice establish a nervous musical parlando to emphasize the female contingent’s building paranoia. The cadence and verve is keenly reminiscent to Strauss’ Intermezzo
(Read here). Wolf-Ferrari took a couple of good lessons from Verdi, especially when adding voices of Viktorija Kaminskaite (Colombina) and Violetta Radomirska (Eleonora) with the two aforementioned to create like qualities found inside the woman’s quartet from Falstaff. Hans Christoph Begemann’s bass voice adds appropriate buffoonery as Arlecchino while the love interest brewing between Rosaura and Florindo (Andreas Weller) lyrically winds its way into the Wolf-Ferrari mix with strong links to the amorous connect between Fenton and Nannetta.
Wolf-Ferrari paid allegiance to Mozart, Rossini and Wagner (in spots) as well. Schirmer’s poignant dialogues are achieved by strings’ rushed pizzicati, string slides to activate whimsy and soprano’s high notes to accentuate shrieks. Co-chairs, Martin Steidler and Benedikt Haag conduct the Madrigal Choir in a lilting gondola number that pinpoints to the “Canzonetta” from Don Giovanni.
cpo's Die neugierigen Frauen cast is a carefully selected resume of top-notch artists. There are no weak links to the delivery of this highly individualistic composition by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. Sound quality is superb; liner notes are well translated into English text.