Wednesday 1 December 2010

Opera Rara benefit

Last night we attended a fund-raising recital for Opera Rara, when soprano Carmen Giannattasio, tenor Colin Lee and baritone Mark Stone, with pianist Jeff Cohen, presented an attractive programme of rarities and better known pieces. The recital was to publicise their fund-raising for their recording of Donizetti's Caterina Cornaro, the last of his operas to be premiered in his lifetime. The recording will feature Carmen Giannattasio, Graeme Broadbent, Colin Lee and Troy Cook.

At the recital Giannattasio gave us a preview by singing Caterina's Romanza and Cabaletta from the opera. She also gave us a thrilling account of Tacea la notte placida from Il Trovatore, an aria where Verdi works his own magic on a musical form and genre familiar to Rossini and Donizetti. Colin Lee opened proceedings with Rodrigo's Cavatina from Rossini's La donna del Lago, a work which has just been issued on disc by Opera Rara. Lee also sang the barcarolle from Offenbach's Vert-vert, another recent Opera Rara recording. Mark Stone sang Sois immobile, from Guillaume Tell, a role which he has just performed for the first time. Then Stone and Lee came together in the duet from The Pearl Fishers before Lee and Giannattasio gave us a thrilling finale in the shape of the duetto finale from Rossini's Ermione (another recent Opera Rara recording).

Opera Rara have recently lost their funding from the Peter Moores Foundation; after 30 years supporting rare recordings, the Foundation is now concentrating resources on their Art Gallery at Compton Verney. So Opera Rara are looking for alternative methods. For Caterina Cornaro they are offering 800 shares in the recording at £250, a fascinating and innovative method of raising money.

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