L’occasione fa il ladro
Antonino Fogliani, cond; Elizaveta Martirosyan (
); Fanie Antonelou (
); Gianpiero Ruggeri (
); Mauro Utzeri (
); Garðar Thór Cortes (
); Joan Ribalta (
Württemberg P O
NAXOS 8.660314-15 (2 CDs: 87:33) Live: Bad Wildbad 2005
In 1981 my partners and I issued on our VOCE label a recording of this opera, which was reviewed in
4:6 by Anthony D. Coggi. The recording starred Cecilia Fusco, Pietro Bottazzo, Italo Tajo, and Gino Sinimberghi and was conducted by Luigi Colonna. As was stated in the notes
was the fifth opera by Rossini to be premiered in 1812, the earlier four were
L’inganno felice, Ciro in Babilonia, La scala di seta,
La pietra del paragone.
La pietra del paragone
premiered at La Scala and was an instant success achieving fifty-three performances during its first season. It was such a success that Rossini was immediately commissioned to write a
for the Teatro San Moisè, and
premiered there on November 24. However it achieved only five performances after its premiere. Apparently the audience viewed it with indifference. Yet it is a delightful example of the young Rossini’s musical genius.
The plot begins with the meeting of Count Alberto and Don Parmenione who are both seeking shelter from a thunderstorm in an inn. They discuss Alberto’s forthcoming marriage to Bernice, a young Neapolitan beauty. The Count leaves when the storm subsides and fails to notice that his sleepy servant has exchanged Don Parmenione’s luggage with his own. Don Parmenione and his servant discover Alberto’s passport, and a miniature portrait of the young Bernice. They both dash to Naples, with the Count’s credentials. Bernice awaits the arrival of her fiancé, but she resents being married to a stranger. She persuades her maid Ernestine to exchange places with her. Her plan is a success. The Count, when he arrives, is attracted to the false maid, and Don Parmenione falls in love with the real maid. In the finale Don Parmenione is revealed as a rogue, and the two pairs of lovers are correctly united.
Gianpiero Ruggeri gives a good performance as the Don, and the lyric Icelandic tenor Garðar Thór Cortes is a fine Count. Elizaveta Martirosyan has a bright soprano voice that is right for the role of Bernice, and the rest of the cast are all quite competent. Antonino Fogliani conducts briskly as he should, and the sound is excellent. The booklet contains notes and a synopsis of the plot by Reto Müller in an English translation by David Stevens as well as the original German notes. There is also information about all the singers as well as the conductor.
Although this is a relatively little-known opera there have been several recordings of it. EJS put out an LP version starring Jolanda Meneguzzer, Juan Oncina, Nestore Catalani, and Fernando Corena, conducted by Edwin Loehrer. A commercial LP was released on the Dover label with Gianna Russo, Flavio Sacchi, Nestore Catalani, and Giuseppina Salvi, conducted by Giuseppe Morelli. A Fonit Cetra recording featuring Luciana Serra, Raul Giménez, and J. Patrick Rafterty, conducted by Salvatore Accardo was negatively reviewed in
17:2 by Henry Fogel. David Johnson in
16:5 called the Claves recording featuring Maria Bayo, Natale De Carolis, Iorio Zennaro, and Francesca Provvisionato “a hands-down winner.” There is also a conventionally staged, finely acted, and well-sung Euroarts DVD with Susan Patterson, Monica Bacelli, Robert Gambill, and Natale De Carolis, conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti.
Any Rossini lover should have a recording of this opera. I have not heard the Claves recording that was enthusiastically reviewed by David Johnson. This recording is good and it is recommendable to those who do not have any other version of this opera. For those collectors who have a DVD player I strongly recommend the Euroarts version listed above.