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Respighi - La bella dormente nel bosco (Sleeping Beauty)

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Adriano
  • Composer: Ottorino Respighi
  • Audio CD (8 Nov. 1995)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Marco Polo
  • ASIN: B000004641
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,121 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
La bella dormente nel bosco (Sleeping Beauty)

Musical fairy-tale in three acts (1921 - 1933)

The 1689 fairy-tale of Charles Perrault, La belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty), inspired Tchaikovsky to his famous ballet exactly two hundred years later and in 1901 provided the subject of an opera for Engelbert Humperdinck.

Both these works were conceived for adult performers. Respighi's opera on the same subject calls for an ensemble of puppets and is addressed to young audiences.

It became so successful in his own lifetime that, with his ballet La boutique fantasque, it heads the group of his most frequently performed stage works.

In the 1920s Vittorio Podrecca's puppet company I Piccoli was very famous, and not only in Italy. After attending a performance in London an enthusiastic George Bernard Shaw seemed to prefer Podrecca's wooden actors to real ones and Respighi too expressed the opinion that it was a joy to work with actors one could pack away into a box after rehearsal, so that they could not bother one with complaints and gossip, as their flesh and blood colleagues do.

On 13th April, 1922, La bella addormentata nel bosco was given its first performance at the Teatro Odescalchi in Rome.

The conductor was Respighi's pupil Renzo Massarani and the production, which held the stage in Podrecca's company for over twenty years, toured to Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Bulgaria, Russia, Canada, Australia and Japan. For London performances the soprano Cissie Vaughan, a pupil of Adelina Patti and Ruggero Leoncavallo, was engaged. She presumably sang the parts of the Nightingale / Blue Fairy, the actual principal role of the opera, rather than that of the Princess.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x963631e0) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9638d564) out of 5 stars Good, but waiting for a definitive recording 19 Oct. 2005
By Nicolas M. Reveles - Published on
Format: Audio CD
There aren't many operatic versions of "Sleeping Beauty", so it was a delight to realize that the composer of "The Pines and Fountains of Rome" had produced this charming work back in the 1920s (revised in 1933). Interest was piqued by a recent production at Spoleto (Charleston) which traveled to Lincoln Center this past summer. I didn't attend either of these productions, but the reviews caught my attention and I ordered this, the only recording of the work that I know of. The piece is pretty well conducted and overall well sung, although the Italian diction is not as idiomatic as one would wish from this (mostly) Slovak cast. Guillermo Dominguez (Prince April) and Adriana Kohutkova (Blue Fairy/Nightengale) are standouts. It's a lovely work that certainly deserves another recording, this time with plummy, Italian voices that are more comfortable with Respighi's style. I have to admit that the Act III setting in the 1930s from the 'fairy tale time' of Acts I and II is something of a shock, especially the appearance of an ugly American (Mr. Dollar Checques) and the 'fox trot' finale. Perhaps more sympathetic performers could have brought it off.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96391414) out of 5 stars if ever an opera deserved top-notch singers... 10 Dec. 2008
By Bertrand Stclair - Published on
Format: Audio CD
For the most part, I agree with the previous reviewer, but I'd like to underscore just how wonderful the orchestral parts are: the brief "overtures" (they are not listed as such) reveal two distinct approaches, that of orchestral playing and that of music to support the singing. The first part, sounding rather late-romantic, is superlative; the second part, more contemporary, has its ups an downs. The same can be said for the interpretation: the orchestra and the conducting are a joy; the singing varies. Baritone Richard Haan is particularly annoying and heavy-accented, and manages to deny us quite a bit of the pleasure that the two "ditties" he is assigned could provide, but others range from decent to excellent.
It is strange, to say the least, that this opera hasn't entered the standard rep of any American opera house (I don't know if it has done so in Europe); it would fit perfectly in the canon that comprises Hansel and Gretel and Ravel's "L'Enfant et les Sortileges". Sung by the finest singers at the Met in New York, it could be a major success; I'll keep hoping for that great recording. In the meantime, especially considering the low price, I can't recommend this enough.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9639148c) out of 5 stars The performances are in fact more than satisfactory, and the music is great 17 April 2010
By G.D. - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
La belle dormente nel bosco (The Sleeping Beauty) was designed for a puppet-theatre production. That might be one reason that it has dropped from sight, but then again so have Respighi's other operas at least outside Italy. It is indeed a pity, for the music here is absolutely gorgeous - that is, most of the music is memorable, atmospheric in a fairy-tale manner, lushly scored and truly beautiful, all the way up to the end, where Respighi lapses into a parody of contemporaneous musical style (a truly ugly fox-trot ending, for instance). It is silly and does to a certain extent undermine the overall impression of the opera. Yet the music is in general so good that it would be a pity to miss the rest of it.

The performances aren't perfect, but in general they are more than acceptable - the soloists bring a certain Slavic flair to it (pronounciation, in particular), but that doesn't detract from the overall impression, at least not for this listener, and while none of them might be world-class singers, they do a pretty good job. The Slovak RSO (Bratislava) and the Slovak Philharmonic Chorus do good jobs as well, although the strings are a little thin at times. Adriano clearly believes in the work (as well he should), and leads a thoughtful, sensitive and well-shaped performance. The sound quality is mostly good. So while I could imagine some improvements in the performance this is not a disc any lover of atmospheric late romantic opera should miss.
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