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Ennio Porrino’s I Shardana, premiered in Naples in 1959, never caught on. It might be because it’s just not very good. The plot is basic, concerning power struggles within an ancient Sardinian community and the titular Shardana. The generally tonal music manages to be both complex and unmemorable. Davide Livermore’s production, filmed in Catania, tries very hard to convince us that this is a great opera. It’s certainly spectacular, with a large rocky slope on a revolve set against filmed backdrops, and the cast works hard – Paoletta Maroccu’s spinto is exciting as ever, and Angelo Villari’s tenor matches her well in their Act I duet, which almost achieves lift-off. Anthony Bramall’s conducting is impassioned, the orchestra plays as if possessed, the chorus is thrilling, and Livermore weaves quote a potent spell with his stage pictures, based on Nuragic bronzes and sculpture. But the show can only be as good as the opera itself, and so has to be counted a failure. Porrino was a disciple of Respighi, and it shows – there’s a surface glamour of orchestration, perhaps moments of interest, but not much to engage the heart and, fatally, no big tune. Even Andrew Lloyd Webber’s cracked that one (even if they are often someone else’s).

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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