Verismo - Preludi e Intermezzi. Domingo Hindoyan. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. © 2023 Onyx Classics


Dramatic and Passionate

GERALD FENECH ardently recommends extracts from operas in the Italian verismo tradition

'Hindoyan gets superb playing from his Liverpudlians, and the white-hot streak of the music is delivered with unabashed virtuosity.'


In opera, 'verismo' (realism) was a post-Romantic operatic tradition associated with Italian composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano, Francesco Cilea and Giacomo Puccini.

Verismo as an operatic genre had its origins in an Italian literary movement of the same name, with Giovanni Verga being its main exponent among others. Verga wrote about subject matter, such as the lives of the poor, that had not generally been seen as a fit subject for literature, but his stories inspired many composers to write stage-music for these literary creations and bring them to life.

Indeed, a short story by Verga, Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry), became the source of, maybe, the most popular 'verismo' opera by Pietro Mascagni which premiered on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome.

Listen — Pietro Mascagni: Intermezzo (Cavalleria Rusticana)
(ONYX4242 track 4, 0:00-0:58)
℗ 2023 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra :

The piece was followed by other notable works in the genre such as Ruggero Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, which premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 21 May 1892, and Giacomo Puccini's Tosca which saw the light of day at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900.

Listen — Leoncavallo: Intermezzo (Pagliacci)
(ONYX4242 track 6, 0:55-1:47)
℗ 2023 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra :

The genre spread like wildfire even outside Italy, and for the first twenty years or so of the twentieth century, 'verismo' opera was in every operatic composer's priorities.

This pulsating album of dramatic and passionate preludes, intermezzos and overtures from some of the most popular Italian opera composers: namely, Ponchielli, Puccini, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Wolf-Ferrari and Cilea, comprises thirteen tracks taken from some very popular works such as Madama Butterfly and Manon Lescaut by Puccini, Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and L'Amico Fritz, Ponchielli's La Gioconda and Adriana Lecouvreur by Cilea.

Listen — Francesco Cilea: Act II Intermezzo (Adriana Lecouvreur)
(ONYX4242 track 13, 0:24-1:09)
℗ 2023 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra :

Wisely, conductor Domingo Hindoyan gave some wonderful balance to the programme by including pieces from lesser known operas that are no less stirring in emotional content. This group consists of Puccini's Le Villi and Edgar, Mascagni's Le Maschere and I Gioelli della Madonna, and Il Segreto di Susanna by Wolf-Ferrari.

Listen — Wolf-Ferrari: Overture (Susanna's Secret)
(ONYX4242 track 7, 1:53-2:51)
℗ 2023 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra :

Hindoyan gets superb playing from his Liverpudlians, and the white-hot streak of the music is delivered with unabashed virtuosity. Sumptuously recorded, this disc should prop up the spirits of those who have a love for the spectacular, and the rest who simply enjoy basking in melodies aplenty. Ardently recommended.

Copyright © 10 November 2023 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta



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