Respighi’s Sleeping Beauty

Resphigi’s La bella dormente nel bosco (libretto by Gian Bistolfi) is a take on the Charles Perreault fairy story.  It was originally written for a puppet theatre and later adapted for human performers.  Its heritage shows in it that it’s very much a numbers opera and it’s quite short.  The three acts come in at around eighty minutes.  Musically it’s a bit of a hodge podge.  It’s mostly quite atmospheric and colourful (similar to Resphigi’s better known orchestral works) with elements of parody.  One can sort of hear echoes of Debussy, Stravinsky and Strauss.  It finishes up with a cakewalk and a Broadway style finale which is decidedly odd.

1.birdsLeo Muscato’s production for the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, recorded in 2017, is quite interesting.  The first two acts are set in a colourful fairy tale fantasy land with talking animals, fairies and so on with highly stylized movement.  Then in Act 3 we fast forward to the early 20th century.  The Prince, the Duchess and their entourage are in natty camo safari outfits and there’s a speaking character; Mr. Dollar, who tries to buy the sleeping princess.  He’s curiously like the Texan in the St. Hubert ads.  There’s also a chorus of lumberjacks; none of whom dress in women’s clothes despite the fact that half of them are.  There are some quite effective moments notably a spectacular thunder storm for entrance of the evil Green Fairy and a rather creepy ballet of little girls paying homage to the baby princess.

2.girls

 

There aren’t really many moments for the singers to really shine but both Angela Nisi as the princess and Shoushik Barsoumian as the Blue Fairy sing very nicely.  Lara Rotili is highly effective in a range of roles from a snarling Green Fairy to a rather cute cat and a rather self absorbed cuckoo.  The rest of the singers, the orchestra and chorus and conductor Donato Renzetti are all perfectly adequate.

3.greenfairy

Tiziano Mancini directs the film and it’s a nice unobtrusive effort backed up by a very good picture and excellent sound (DTS-HD-MA and LPCM 2.0) on Blu-ray.  There are no extras.  The booklet has a track listing and a useful essay and sub title options are English, German, Italian, Korean and Japanese.

4.safari

So, a bit of an oddball but quite an amusing, if undemanding way, to spend an hour or so.

5.finale

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