Gioacchino Rossini – Stabat Mater
Serena Farnocchia: soprano; Anna Bonitatibus: mezzosoprano; Ismael Jordi: tenor; Alex Esposito: bass baritone
Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp/Ghent
Yannis Pouspourikas, chorus master
Alberto Zedda, conductor
It is difficult to find a name more strictly connected to the so-called “Rossini Renaissance” than that of conductor Alberto Zedda. He was among the promoters of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and recorded innumerable operas of the favourite composer. He performed many times the Stabat Mater, one of the few sacred pieces Rossini wrote, and finally this work too has been released, unfortunately after the conductor’s death (March 2017). For this reason, what could have been a moment of pleasure and joy for Rossini’s fans is saddened by the remembrance of the great maestro, but music is always an effective remedy, especially when it is so finely performed.
Stabat Mater: Alberto Zedda ‘s Conduction
No one more than Zedda can feel at home with Rossini’s music and he proves it once again with Stabat Mater. He performed this work many times but he is still able to find something new to express and to reveal to the listener the most hidden details of the score. His youthful, energetic manner is riveting and it is particularly effective in the final, angry acceptance in Amen, where resignation to everybody’s fate refects a shade of rage, as if the inner struggle continues despite the apparent acceptation. This said, gloomy and bitterness are constantly present in the Stabat Mater, so that it is possible to perceive pessimism even more than sorrow, despite the fact that the former indisputably originates from the latter. This reading reveals deep attention and love for Rossini’s masterpiece and makes Zedda’s approach fresh and interesting.
Stabat Mater: The Soloists
The Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp/Ghent is an excellent ensemble, to the point that the choral parts are sometimes even more enjoyable than the arias and duets of the soloists. These are usually fine performers, as in the case of two Rossinian singers as mezzosoprano Anna Bonitatibus and of bass baritone Alex Esposito, but tenor Ismael Jordi is not at the same level. He hits the notes, but his vocal style is anonymous.
Soprano Serena Farnocchia is far better. She is generally good with the slight exception of a squeaky high C at the end of Inflammatus and of a vibrato that sometimes is unpleasant, but these are really little things in comparison with a performance that is usually balanced. Going back to the mezzo, Bonitatibus is in Stabat Mater the sensitive singer she has always been and her aria Fac ut portem is one of the best parts of the recording for her charisma. Esposito is equally good and Pro peccatis is a charming piece where his flexible voice expresses with naturalness and emotion the saddest feelings.
Musically speaking, then, Alberto Zedda’s last Stabat Mater is successful – excellent without reservations on the part of the conduction, a little inferior but still pleasant on the part of the singing. My last note is about the sound. This is not perfect and sometimes you may have the impression that the ensemble is in a place that is too big, so that there is not the chance to appreciate fully the orchestral sound and colours, but not to the point of affecting the overall impression of the work, which is enjoyable without troubles for the major part of the time.