A Compelling but Neglected Foroni Opera at the Wexford Festival

28/10/2017

Wexford

Wexford Festival 2017 [1] – Foroni, Margherita: Wexford Festival Orchestra and Chorus/Timothy Myers (conductor), National Opera House, Wexford, 26.10.2017. (JMI)

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Wexford Festival Opera’s Margherita (c) Wexford Opera Festival

Cast:

Margherita – Alessandra Volpe
Ernesto – Andrew Stenson
Giustina – Giuliana Gianfaldoni
Ser Matteo – Matteo D’Apolito
Conte Rodolfo – Yuriy Yurchuk
Roberto – Filippo Fontana
Gasparo – Ji Hyun Kim

Co-production: Wexford Opera Festival with Oldenburgisches Staatstheater

Director – Michael Sturm
Sets and Costumes – Stefan Rieckhoff
Lighting – DM Wood

As in past years, the 2017 Wexford Festival Opera is staging three seldom-seen works that should be of great interest to opera lovers: Margherita by Jacopo Foroni, Risurrezione by Franco Alfano and Cherubini’s Medea.

Jacopo Foroni (1824-1858) is an Italian composer who for much of his life was a conductor. He was very involved in the famous Cinque Giornate revolt in Milan, and spent his final years with the opera company in Stockholm, where he died of cholera. He composed four operas, the first of which was Margherita, which premiered in Milan in 1848 and was enthusiastically received (although his greatest success came with the second, Cristina, regina di Svezia, which Wexford did a few years ago).

Margherita is a semi-serious opera, and its best moments occur in the second act, especially the two duets of Margherita and Giustina. It’s an enjoyable work and a pleasure to attend, though it cannot be considered a masterpiece. The Wexford production by the German stage director Michael Sturm is a simple one that moves the action from Switzerland to post-war Italy. The sets and costumes are well-suited to the staging and the action is nicely narrated.

Timothy Myers, who led Vanessa here last year, drew a good performance from both orchestra and chorus. His conducting was appropriate and he fulfilled his obligation to a belcanto work: fundamentally, to accompany and support the singers.

The protagonist who gives title to the opera was played by mezzo-soprano Alessandra Volpe. She was the best singer of the cast: her voice has both amplitude and attractiveness, and she manages it very well. Her best moments came in the aforementioned duets with Giustina.

Tenor Andrew Stenson in the part of Ernesto was a modest interpreter. His voice is rather small, and he went to a pure falsetto in his Act II scene.

Soprano Giuliana Gianfaldoni was Giustina, Ernesto’s sister and Margherita’s friend. Her voice is appealing, and her singing is interesting while she’s in the middle range; it loses some quality on high notes, particularly in forte.

Ser Matteo, a character for a basso buffo, was sung by Matteo D’Apolito, a baritone. I didn’t find him of great vocal interest, although he was a good actor.

The noble character of Conte Rodolfo was interpreted by bass Yuriy Yurchuk, whose agreeable voice suited the character. Roberto, the bad guy of the opera, was sung by baritone Filippo Fontana. Finally, the secondary character of Gasparo was properly interpreted by tenor Ji Hyun Kim.

José M. Irurzun

For more about the Wexford Festival Opera click here.

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