Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana
Melody Moore (Santuzza), Brian Jagde (Turiddu), Elisabetta Fiorillo (Lucia), Lester Lynch (Alfio), Roxana Constantinescu (Lola), Anna Rad-Markowska, Manja Raschka (Donne), Leipzig Radio Choir, Jörn Hinnerk Andresen (chorus master), Dresden Philharmonic, Wolfgang Hentrich (concertmaster), Marek Janowski (conductor)
Recording: Kulturpalast Dresden, Germany (March 2019) – 66’06
Pentatone PTC 5186 772 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English and German – Libretto in Italian, English and German
Pietro Mascagni’s set-up of dilemmas dealing with honor, betrayal and devotion are generously overdosed with wide orchestration. Under the baton of Marek Janowski, we have a Germanic instrumental and choral core that’s supported by a thin Italianate representation (with exception of Elisabetta Fiorillo). And while M. Janowski’s direction of the “Preludio” and “Introduzione” are unfussy and tinged with lush evocation, the “Intermezzo” is a tad unremarkable. That said, however, the music sets itself up for sudden moments of plausible, outrageous exclamation.
The whirl of fascination turns to Melody Moore’s Santuzza. She’s made a remarkable career for herself after beginning in secondary roles such as the 2008 Ullmann/Zemlinsky double-bill, Der zerbrochene Krug and Der Zwerg. Back then, her richly dark and bowling voice was warming and soothing. 11 years later, she hasn’t lost any of its lustre, now teeming with a momentous and pathetic carriage. Brian Jagde, though volumetrically lighter (and occasionally overpowered by the Dresdner Philharmonie) in tone, brings forth less feistiness and stronger persuasions of a cowardice. That works well in the role of Turiddu.
Back in 2011 Roxana Contantinescu chirped away as the perky soubrette Despina in Così fan tutte, and while it’s easy envisioning her segueing into the seductive Lola, her passages are attenuated. Nevertheless, her gingery inculcations are dosed in spoonfuls of saucy haughtiness.
Caserta native, Elisabetta Fiorillo offers Cavalleria rusticana its rooted Sicilian foundation...a stock character with motherly fortitude. She’s a reliable anchor with sides of anguish while deftly tuning her register with degreed spouts of solace and comfort. In particular, the “Romanza e Scena” telescopes with the most poignancy, drawing more than a mild layer of pathos. Known for his firm Verdi/Puccini resumé Lester Lynch nicely slips into Alfio as he conveys carefree innocence and immaturity, although there’s a machismo quick-flip when confronting Turiddu.
Cavalleria rusticana’s verismo integration has pockets of absorbing frisson, yet the lasting memory tapers.