Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites (World Premiere - In Italian) - Zeani, Frazzoni, Gencer, Pederzini, Ratti; Sanzogno. La Scala, 1957
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It is possible that The Dialogues of the Carmelites may be one of the last operas of its kind to achieve the level of world acceptance that it has enjoyed since its premiere. And despite the fact that this is a French opera with a very French story, this opera had its premiere at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and was sung in Italian as per Poulenc's directions that the opera should always be mounted in the vernacular. I cannot be sure if this recording was made on the actual world premiere, but it sports the opening night cast. And what a cast! Virginia Zeani sings Blanche (Bianca) and she is a brilliant choice. The purity of her voice conveys the youth of the character but she is also able to open up her top in ways that are truly ravishing. Leyla Gencer and Gigliola Frazzoni sing Mere Marie and Mme Lidoine respectively. Vocally and dramatically they are very well matched and are very exciting in their scenes together. I was surprised by the choice of Eugenia Ratti as Sister Constance. Her voice is much fuller than the soubrettes who usually take this role. The added fullness gives an otherwise silly character a little more substance. Gianna Pederezi is a little past her time to be able to make the most out of the old Prioress' music, but she brings a maternal warmth to the character. As a luxury Nicola Filacuridi sings the rather small part of the Chevalier and Fiorenza Cossotto sings the even smaller part of Sister Mathilde. Nino Sanzogno seems to have been the go-to man for eclectic music in Italy and embraces the challenge. His tempos may lack the briskness of some other recordings but they highlight the many lyrical passages of the score. The sound is very good.