Ah, gentle reader, what can one say about Il Corsaro? That it, along with Alzira are considered the bottom of the Verdi barrel? That, as Wiliam Berger ("Verdi With a Vengeance") notes, "If one could assemble the proper cast to perform Corsaro properly, one wouldn't. One would produce Trovatore instead"? Perhaps, but Verdi at his least best is still mighty fine music, and this performance is convincing evidence that Corsaro is worth experiencing.
This disc presents four principal singers with whom I am totally unfamiliar, but I hope to hear more from them. (If the opera gods are just, we should, but experience shows them to be as capricious as were their Greek anticedents, else why no more Met HD DVDs? But I am off topic ...)
The tenor role of Corrado has been described (Berger) as written for a "heroic voice". To me, Bruno Ribeiro is more of a spinto, but he executes the role, with all its fiendish tessatura, flawlessly. He would be an ideal Alfredo or Duke of Mantua. Bravo!
Irina Lungu (Medora) is a gifted soprano. Her role requires her to sing a bit low in the soprano range but when it's time to hit the high notes, she delivers perfectly. What acting is required in this romantic role (aside from fainting and dying) is well done. Brava!!
Silvia Dalla Benetta (as I noted in my review of the Tutto Verdi sampler) is the real deal. Her role requires the "blood and guts" approach, especially as to her Act II cabaletta, which Budden refers to as ordinary, as I recall, but Osborne calls it "absolutely glorious" (go figure). I think it rocks because Mme Dalla Benetta nails it! Brava!!!
Baritone Luca Salsi (Seid) is the almost bad guy. His singing in a performance where everyone is spot on, nealy steals the show. What a voice! And a kind of passionate intensity in the dramatic aspects as well. Whew!
Chorus and orchestra do a first rate job, too. Staging is traditional and surprisingly effective, considering the small stage.
Disc quality is nearly perfect, my only reservation being that the women's chorus seemed under miked in the second act. But that aside, the surround experience of C Major's DTS is dramatic.
A word about the venue: this opera was performed in the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in Busetto. The theatre is tiny, having a stage about the size of a two car garage and seating for 300. The audience was enthusiastic, but remember, gentle reader, that Busetto was Verdi's home town, and it, along with nearby Parma have a serious history of doing bad things to performers who disappoint. Caruso was reported to have been booed in a performance of L'Elisir and subsequently refused service by a cab driver who didn't want to dirty his cab with a bad singer. Othe disappointees have been refused service in restaurants and hotels. So an enthusiatic audience, which this one was, really says something about the performance.
I share that reaction. Buy with confidence, and forget all about that German guy.