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Two films of Italian productions reveal fine-looking but bland productions with strong singing. Attila, from Bologna, looks elegant in Daniele Abbado’s updated production. It has potential to become edgy but at heart it is quite old-fashioned stand and sing. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo takes the title role, with brooding good looks and a strong bass. Maria José Siri’s Odabella is stylish in intent, sometimes wayward of tone, but she’s undeniably exciting. Not a word that can be used for Fabio Sartori’s Foresto, but his tenor is the right size and hue for the role. Baritone Simone Piazzola is perhaps the strongest soloist, his Ezio firmly phrased with a ringing top. Michele Mariotti conducts, highlighting the dark tinta of Verdi’s scoring.

Il Castello di Kenilworth is Donizetti’s opera about Elizabeth I that stands in the shade of her appearances in Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux. It is an uneven piece, some passages hackneyed, others hitting the spot, such as the Act II finale and Amelia’s Act III aria with glass harmonica and harp, a precursor to Lucia di Lammermoor. Maria Pilar Pérez Aspa’s production is simple and traditional, plays cautiously with the imagery of cages, and is generally inoffensive. Jessica Pratt is the Queen, looking regal and singing with stronger mid and low registers than I remember – her acuti, as ever, are plentiful and stunning. Carmela Remigio provides contrast as Amelia, her soprano pliant and darker-toned. Xabier Anduaga is an exciting young tenor, with a fresh and mellifluous voice. Riccardo Frizza’s conducting is considerate and cheerfully indulgent.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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