Tutto buffo
Paolo Bordogna (bass-baritone)
Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini/Francesco Lanzillotta
rec. Auditorium Nicol˛ Paganini, Parma, 9-13 September 2014
Booklet notes in English and Italian. Sung texts in original language.
DECCA 481 1685 [62:52]

Born in 1972 Paolo Bordogna has since around the turn of the millennium profiled himself as one of the leading buffo singers of our time. He has appeared on a number of complete opera sets but this is, to my knowledge, his first solo disc. Here he has picked some of the best known buffo scenes, where he is up against comparison with the great ones of the previous century. There are also some scenes where competition isn’t so keen. His is a typical bass-baritone voice, which suits most buffo characters. His patter singing is expert, he has a trill – both features important in this repertoire – but he is rather monochrome and one gets the impression that it is basically the same character, appearing in several operas. In a way that is also the case with the characters: Don Pasquale, Doctor Bartolo, Don Magnifico are all cut from stock material, elderly, pompous, often with considerable girth. An audience knows what to expect and adjusts to the convention. There isn’t much depth in these men, to be honest. Their exterior can differ, and this production has a trump-card: there are photos of Bordogna in costume and mask in all the roles but one. I found that looking at the photos while listening I could associate the sound with the looks, so to speak. Objectively though there is very little differentiation between the characters.

Let us not be too pernickety. This is good singing and the patter is impressive. Il turco in Italia for instance: what energy. Don Magnifico has some human aspects and here is more three-dimensional. There is even some falsetto singing in his aria. Dulcamara’s grateful aria from L’Elisir d’amore has a lot of theatricality about it. In the enjoyable duet scene from Don Pasquale he manages to differentiate between the two characters even though Bordogna sings both roles; they still have the same timbre.

He gives a vivid portrait of Falstaff in the honour monologue, but Gianni Schicchi sounds stone-face, despite the mask being marvellous.

The rarities are welcome. Donizetti’s Le convenienze e le inconvenienze teatrali is occasionally played today and it was seen in Stockholm some 25 years ago, then titled Viva la mamma!, with Ingvar Wixell, no less as Mamma Agata. It’s nice to have this duet as a souvenir.

Mascagni’s Le maschere, premiered in 1901, was the composer’s homage to Rossini and the Italian opera buffa. It was never a success, and Mascagni’s revision of 1931 was also met with a chill. The stuttering aria performed here sounds very calculated and, honestly, humour based on people’s disabilities has had its day.

Nino Rota, best remembered for his film scores for Fellini and Visconti, wrote a lot of other music including a couple of operas, of which The Italian Straw Hat, as it is normally called in English, has been seen in a number of theatres and was also filmed. The aria here confirms that Rota had a rich melodic vein.

Readers who love opera buffa and want a collection of the best scenes will find a lot to enjoy here. Be warned, though, that the sung texts are printed only in the original Italian. For good translations one has to search online. The recommended dose, by the way, is one or two arias at a time.

G÷ran Forsling
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Track listing
Domenico CIMAROSA (1749 – 1801)
Il matrimonio segreto:
1. Udite, tutti udite! [5:32]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Don Giovanni:
2. Madamina, il catalogo Ŕ questo [5:21]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868)
Il barbiere di Siviglia:
3. A un dottor della mia sorte [6:23]
Il turco in Italia:
4. Se ho da dirla avrei molto piacere [4:16]
La cenerentola:
5. Sia qualunque delle figlie [5:13]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 – 1848)
Le convenienze e le inconvenienze teatrali:
6. Lazzrune, scauzacane! [4:44]
(with Vittorio Prato)
L’Elisir d’amore:
7. Udite, o rustici [7:11]
Don Pasquale:
8. Son nov’ore [2:54]
9. Bella siccome un angelo [4:10]
10. Ah! Un foco insolito [2:11]
(Paolo Bordogna sings both characters)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
11. Ehi! Paggio! ... L’onore! [4:31]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
Gianni Schicchi:
12. Era eguale la voce? [2:33]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863 – 1945)
Le maschere:
13. Quella Ŕ una stra-stra-strada [2:48]
Nino ROTA (1911 – 1979)
Il capello di paglia di Firenze:
14. ╚ una cosa incredibile! [5:01]