Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata is the third of the four excellent "chapters" in saxophonist and composer Gato Barbieri's four-part "Latin America" series for Impulse, and released in 1974 with the core of a band he would use for his live outing on Chapter Four: Alive in New York. […] by Thom Jurek
In its day La scuola de’ gelosi (1778) was one of the best-known comic operas by Antonio Salieri (1750–1825), remaining a box-office hit for decades. All the more astonishing is the fact that it could sink into obscurity. Even Goethe was excited by this masterpiece: “The opera is the audience’s favourite, and the audience is right. It contains an astonishing richness and variety, and the subject is treated with the most exquisite taste. I was moved by every aria.” In the wake of its world premiere in Venice in 1778, La scuola de’ gelosi was performed in opera houses all over Europe, from Dresden, Vienna, Prague and Paris to cities as far away as London and St Petersburg, before it passed into near-oblivion.
Before the emergence of Daniel Catan, whose Rappaccini's Daughter (1991) and Florencia en el Amazonas (1996) have had considerable exposure and success, Mexican opera had passed largely under the radar of most opera lovers. Urtext's excellent new recording of La Mulata de Cordoba (1948) by Jose Pablo Moncayo (1912-1958) helps fill in that gap in awareness.
Kiri Te Kanawa does well by these songs, avoiding the billowing excesses of sentiment that in other hands (or vocal chords) can make them sound much too soggy. Although Berlioz gathered them all together under the present title, all of the songs were composed at different times for different singers, so they aren't really a cycle at all. I seldom listen to all of them at once, and you should feel free to take them in any order that suits you. "The Death of Cleopatra" is an early cantata that perfectly suits Jessye Norman's stately delivery. She's always at her best playing royalty, and if they're dying in mortal agony, so much the better.