Mercadante: Il Giuramento
Il giuramento – Pure Belcanto Pleasure
It is, of course, a commonplace that every evening in the theatre and every concert is a unique event that cannot be repeated, even though a great opera house like the Vienna State Opera may present a whole run of performances with an identical cast. n spite of this, there are performances whose exceptional nature is in no way diminished by factors that could not be taken into account when the production was being planned, but whose uniqueness is in fact increased as a result. In 1979, for example, the first of three concert performances of Saverio Mercadante’s rarely performed Il giuramento was threatened with cancellation when the tenor scheduled to sing the main role fell ill and it seemed impossible to find a replacement. In the event, Plácido Domingo sang the part flawlessly after only a day in which to learn the role, thereby underscoring what even then was the exceptional position that he has maintained in the operatic world ever since. One of his long-standing colleagues, Agnes Baltsa, likewise caused a sensation as Bianca, a show-stopping contralto role that she had already performed in Berlin five years earlier, also under Gerd Albrecht and also with Robert Kerns. The 1979 performances additionally saw the young Mara Zampieri storming the world of opera’s Olympian heights, a position she was able to maintain for many years at the Vienna State Opera, where she was especially associated with the roles of Verdi’s Odabella and Lady Macbeth and, above all, Puccini’s Tosca. Orfeo’s live recording of this altogether unique and unrepeatable performance also showcases a work that allows us to see Mercadante’s role as Verdi’s precursor in its proper light.