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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Un Giorno di Regno (1840) [119:00]
Belfiore - Guido Loconsolo
Il Barone di Kelbar - Andrea Porta
Marchesa del Poggio - Anna Caterina Antonacci
Giulietta - Alessandra Marinelli
Edoardo - Ivan Magrì
La Rocca - Paolo Bordogna
Il Conte Ivrea - Ricardo Mirabelli
Delmonte - Seung-Hwa Paek
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Regio di Parma/Donato Renzetti
rec. live, Teatro Regio di Parma, January 2010
Pier Luigi Pizzi (Stage Director)
Bonus: Introduction to the opera [10:00]
Picture Format: 16:9, HD
Sound Format: DVD: DTS 5.1, PCM 2.0
Booklet: English, German, French
Subtitles: Italian (original language), English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese
C MAJOR 720208 [129:00]

Un Giorno di Regno, Verdi’s second opera, was probably his least successful. It had the worst opening night of his career - its reception is said to have made him swear he would never compose again. Unlike other first night flops such as La Traviata, it never got a chance for rehabilitation in the composer’s lifetime. Even Verdi himself never showed any interest in returning to it, probably due to the desperately unhappy personal circumstance in which it was composed: his first wife and his daughters both died during the process, and he never forgave the La Scala audience for booing it off the stage so soundly. Posterity has never really given it much time, either. It’s the work that sounds least like Verdi. Unlike Oberto and Nabucco, which come on either side of it, it’s almost impossible to trace any antecedents of the composer’s later style, and that’s probably because this piece is almost unique in Verdi’s output: it was his only comedy until Falstaff, and it’s a universe away from that final masterpiece. As it happens, it’s an extremely conventional work, ticking all the boxes of buffa and bel canto. It has young lovers, mistaken identity, bumbling older characters and lots of fizzing sequences where everybody gets their just desserts. To be honest, it might as well have been written by Donizetti, but that doesn’t make it a bad work. In fact, parts of it are very attractive. The comic scenario, while convoluted, is effective in its own way, and some of the musical numbers work very well. There is a super quintet and sextet in Act 1, and each of the characters are well drawn, though it’s fairly clear that Verdi hadn’t yet worked out how to distinguish between bass voices.
 
It’s difficult to see it getting much of an outing nowadays, so be thankful for Parma’s complete Verdi series who have made a very good job of staging it. The costumes place the action squarely in the period of the libretto: 1733, the time of the War of Polish Succession. That allows us to accept the plot conventions more quickly. The sets are squarely naturalistic, with lots of very effective interiors, most notably the library which serves as the setting for the Act 1 finale and an applause-inducing kitchen for the start of Act 2.
 
The singers are also very good indeed, led by the virile and exciting baritone of Guido Loconsolo, masquerading as the King of Poland in the house of the Baron of Kelbar. He has a ring to his voice that marks him out as the love interest, though he isn’t particularly well contrasted with the other baritone leads, Andrea Porta and Paolo Bordogna. The similarity of their voices is still pleasing on the ear, though. Porta has a gift for comedy that should snare him lots of similar roles in the future. Bordogna fulfils all the stereotypes of the frustrated and ultimately unsuccessful older lover, but he does so very successfully. I also really liked the clean, bright sound of Ivan Magrì’s tenor. There is a slightly raw, undisciplined quality to his voice, but I found that quite exhilarating in its own way, and he pings off all the top notes thrillingly.
 
The two women, on the other hand, are very well contrasted and are very successful both in their acting and in their singing. How lovely to see Anna Caterina Antonacci letting her hair down in a comic role! Her experience as Carmen and Cassandra would normally land her a world away from repertoire like this, but she seems to be having a great time, and she sings the Marchesa’s music with wit and flair, lending it a touch of extra style, especially in her first aria, pictured on the cover photo. Alessandra Marinelli is noticeably lighter and sweeter in comparison, but that suits the contrast of their characters very well. Her duet with Magrì towards the end of Act 2 is a winner.
 
You’re not likely to see Un Giorno di Regno very often, even in its composer’s big year, and if you want it on a DVD there is barely any competition, and none that is easily available. This one can easily be recommended, though more for lovers of bel canto or for Verdi completists. If you really want the opera, though, special mention must still go to Gardelli’s CD version on Philips with an absolutely first-rate cast, though these days it’s not very easy to find.
 
Simon Thompson 

see also review of Bluray release by Robert Farr (February 2013 Recording of the Month)


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