Pizzetti: Ifigenia - Moffo, Nicolai, Petri, Bertocci; Pizzetti. RAI, 1956
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When opera was in its infancy during the 17th century it looked back to the classics for inspiration. As time went on setting Greek myths fell out of favor for more contemporary themes. It was only in the 20th century that a "classical revival" of sorts emerged thanks to the efforts of composers like Strauss and Stravinsky. Drawing on a richer orchestral and harmonic palette with influences of the far-east and other exotic locales, composers had new tools to not only represent the timeless allegories but also let their imaginations take flight to conceive of a tonal landscape of a bygone, mythical era. Ildebrando Pizzetti, a composer who does not get enough attention these days but is, in my opinion, the only heir to the legacy of Italian music in the second half of the 20th century, displays a wonderful imagination and paints a tonal landscape that is both exotic and lyrical. His music is both inventive and quintessentially Italian. He is aided by a fantastic array of singers to realize his vision starting with a young Anna Moffo in the title role. Moffo's auburn voice has a purity to it matched by a dramatic punch (listening to this performance made me fantasize of what her Salome might have sounded like.) Elena Nicolai sings Clitennestra and is well cast next to Moffo as their voices seems to bear a familiar resemblance in color. Her anguished pleas for her daughter's life are quite moving. The orchestra is in the hands of the composer who shows that he also knew what he was doing with a baton. The sound is excellent.