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Zandonai’s reputation rests on Francesca da Rimini, which just about clings to the edge of the repertoire. There are a few recordings available, all compromised in some way – uneven casting, incomplete, poor sound – so a new version is welcome. And what a version it is! From the Theater Freiburg comes a real winner. Fabrice Bollon conducts with that peculiar blend of perfumed delicacy and Grand Guignol that pervades the opera, and his orchestra and chorus respond with passion. Christina Vasileva is a magnificent protagonist – her confident, multihued soprano sweeping over the orchestra yet pared down to a whisper when required, with a vivid vibrato at the top reminiscent of those previous great Francescas, Olivero and Kabaivanksa. Her dramatic involvement leaps from the speakers. If this is a sample of her art, then she should be storming the world’s opera houses. Tenor Martin Mühle partners her ardently as Paolo, Juan Orozco is a suitably bluff Gianciotto and Adriano Graziani an oily but well sung Malatestino.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Opera Now, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing