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The chorus from the Chisinau National Opera production of Mascagni's 'Cavalleria Rusticana'

Visually this Cav looked good from the start : a subtly designed roofline of Sicilian village houses, church, a cart (presumably Alfio's), a well, just enough of a scattering of pitchers and baskets to create atmosphere without clutter, an effective fixed blue-orange dawn backcloth and some good traditional costuming (though Alfio's just a mite more Romanian than Roman). The orchestral prelude -- matching a well-staged visual vignette of Turiddu's Easter serenade of Lola (Zolia Zabelina) -- was magnificent (and impacted marginally more than the celebrated midway intermezzo); as so often, the (locally recruited) children's entries were better than the adults'. But this rustic scene sported the same chorus as Chisinau's memorable Aida : the full choruses were, almost without exception, superb, with the women yet again outstanding (particularly divisi, when the seconds stand out), and the tenor line, too, strikingly strong. Several of the climaxes were of recording quality. Only one chorus occasion fell short: the start of the church scene, folded into by subtle woodwind transition, with the altos tuned to the orchestra but the other voices furnishing two, if not three, noticeably different pitchings. Yet the next chorus was dazzling, and dead in tune.

Chorus of Sicilian women in the church scene from the Chisinau National Opera production of 'Cavalleria Rusticana'

Busuioc's exchanges with Turiddu and Alfio were first-rate, not least the frantic unison on which the Santuzza-Turiddu duet culminates. The Turiddu, Igor Macarenko, is an Italianate Russian tenor with power across the range, and a romantic flair coupled with forceful delivery, though a tendency to distinctly un-Italianate (albeit aptly Sicilian) gulped-back vowels, and with hints of unevenness in the mid-range. The Alfio, Petru Racovita, is yet another of Chisinau's most effective character performers, his forceful though natural, unaffected presence matched by a vocal cutting edge and steely timbre which he can switch on at will -- a match in ensemble for any steely tenor.

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Copyright © 10 February 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK




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