A wonderful and little known opera by Leoni, a contemporary of Puccini.
One of the latest (maybe the latest) recording by the magnificent baritone Tito Gobbi. New rip with the RME Fireface UC and FF links
# Composer: Franco Leoni
# Performer: Richard Van Allen, Joan Sutherland, Tito Gobbi, Huguette Tourengeau, Clifford Grant
# Orchestra: National Philarmonic Orchestra
# Conductor: Richard Bonynge
# Vinyl (1977)
# Number of Discs: 2
# Format: Flac
# Label: Decca
# DR-Analysis: DR 15
# ASIN: B00076YNHI
# Size: 1.65 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FF
Joan Sutherland is not usually associated with the verismo repertory and her excursions into that area were limited to a few performances of Suor Angelica in Sydney in 1977 and her participation in the legendary 1972 Decca recording of Turandot, in which she sang the title-role. In addition she recorded this absolute rarity in 1975, Leoni’s L’Oracolo. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown and ending with death by pigtail strangulation, the opera had its world premiere on 28 June 1905 at Covent Garden.
The review here below is from Amazon, regarding a 2-CD-Set with Leoni’s “L’Oracolo” and Puccini’s “Suor Angelica”.
Here is an unusual little feast, “L’oracolo”, a 65 minute opera, written for Covent Garden, prima 1905. In this 2 CD Decca set, “L’oracolo” (1977) is paired with Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” (1979) with an extraordinary cast for both operas led by Joan Sutherland (as Ah-Joe & Suor Angelica) and Richard Bonynge conducting. The sound quality is very good with synopsis only, no libretto. It’s an interesting pairing of the two operas; a more conventional Puccini choice might have been “Il tabarro” which would have mirrored the grimy waterfront setting (& Sutherland had earlier sung Giorgietta) but Bonynge saw otherwise for The Dame. In any event, in both operas an amazing cast of musicans turn in wonderful performances. Composer Franco Leoni adapted “L’oracolo” from Chester Bailey Fernald’s tragedy “The Cat and the Cherub” and is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, on New Year’s day; opening and closing with a cock’s crow at dawn. This is a “courtyard opera” in that there is one set (as is Suor Angelica) in this case a back alley courtyard rather like Catfish Row in “Porgy & Bess”. Another similarity to Porgy is that Franco Leoni was a composer for the musical theater as well as opera and there is a West End slickness that organically inhabits “L’oracolo”.
So we have an Italian composer, in London, setting his opera in an immigrant community in San Francisco (lyrics in Italian and gibberish-Chinese) encompassing in one hour the 24 hour cycle of the New Year celebration, a love interest,a kidnapping and two murders. It all works! Leoni was up to the task producing a compelling drama and some gorgeous (& memorable) music. It should be remembered that at the time of the premier The Chinese Exclusion Act had been in place, as law, in the United States for thirteen years so not only were the Chinese depicted a minority, but an illegal and despised minority. That was not lost on Leoni,there is an ironic musical reference using a brief phrase of “America the Beautiful” mid-opera that is haunting considering the existence of the exclusion laws. There is obviously a lot to cover in an hour and Leoni dramatically colors and balances the music to great effect. I’m not a fan of some of the choral writing (depending on my mood) but it is theatrically effective and overall doesn’t detract from the whole. The gibberish-Chinese is unfortunate but looked at in the context of 1905 is forgiveable (although I wonder what a person of Chinese origin might have to say about that).
In every case the quality of the singing is beautiful. Tito Gobbi as Cim-fen, proprietor of an opium den, gives a compelling and assured performance in his very fine (late career) baritone, richly articulated and just sinister enough. Sutherland sings the relatively small, but challenging role of Ah-Joe with great beauty combining very well with tenor Ryland Davies as the love interest, Uni-San-Lui. All of the cast are great and the music is handled with percision and heart. Bonynge (who was a champion of the this opera) gives a stylish reading of a very interesting score. Every time I return to “L’oracolo” I come away satisfied and the tunes stay in my head for days (always telling). Leoni was a man of his time and the musical zeitgeist of the work has echoes of Mascagni, Puccini & others (Wagner) but is essentially an original and delightful work.
Analyzed folder: /Users/alfredo/Desktop/ HiResMusic/96kLeo_Ora/96k Leoni – L’Oracolo – Gobbi-Sutherland
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR14 -0.40 dB -19.82 dB sideA – Leoni – L’Oracolo.wav
DR15 -0.69 dB -21.40 dB sideB – Leoni – L’Oracolo.wav
DR15 -1.12 dB -21.02 dB sideC – Leoni – L’Oracolo.wav
DR15 -0.51 dB -21.65 dB sideD – Reminiscences Of The Music From James Bernard Fagan’s Play ‘The Prayer Of The Sword’.wav
Number of files: 4
Official DR value: DR15
- RCM: Okki Nokki
- TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
- System: Special Edition Denon DL 103
- Phono stage: Pro-Ject Phono Box II
- Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX Advanced v2.02, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Light de-Clicking with ClickRepair, significant clicks manually removing, no De-Noising
If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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