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June 01, 2009

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Released: June 2009 Label: Opera Rara CD: B00205RKL0

Ricci: Corrado d’Altamura

As we read in Sacchéro’s prefatory note, Roggero, the Sicilian Duke of Agrigento and Aragona, has, as a result of his ill deeds, incurred a long war with his vassals, who include Corrado, Count of Altamura, and the latter’s friends Giffredo and Bonello. Corrado had once been Roggero’s tutor, and had brought him up in his home and shared all his pursuits with him. But those happy days are long since past. Corrado has an only daughter, Delizia, his hope and joy. Delizia and Roggero some time since fell in love with each other, but even as the action opens, we learn that Corrado has now betrayed her and given his heart to another. PROLOGUE. SCENE ONE. An armoury, where mercenary knights are carousing. Bonello, who has always loved Delizia but has seen himself supplanted by Roggero, informs Giffredo that he is now more unhappy than ever, since he has learned that Delizia has been abandoned: it is Roggero’s intention to marry Margarita, the daughter of the Marchese Albarosa, a Spanish noblkeman from Navarre. Giffredo predicts that Roggero’s crimes will soon reap their just reward, and that he will be struck down by the sword. SCENE TWO. A room in the palace of Agrigento, where Delizia pours her doubts and fears out to her confidante Isabella. Although she has no definite proof, she suspects that Roggero has given his heart to another. At this moment Roggero’s voice is heard. He joins Delizia, and, despite her reproaches, convinces her that he still loves her. He tells her that they must temporarily separate, but promises to return. They take a passionate leave of each other. ACT ONE. PART ONE. A small private room in Corrado’s castle of Aragona, where he is fretting for lack of occupation. Giffredo comes to break the news of Delizia’s betrayal. Corrado, drawing his dagger, determines to seek revenge. PART TWO. SCENE ONE. A room in the palace of Agrigento, as in the second scene of the Prologue. Delizia, to her distress, hears in the distance the sounds of celebration as Roggero leads Margarita to the altar. Bonello comes to comfort her, soon followed by Corrado. Corrado presents her with a dagger, but she says that she has a better way of exacting revenge. All three leave with the intention of interrupting the marriage ceremony. SCENE TWO. The vestibule of the oratory where the marriage of Roggero and Margarita is to take place, and where the tombs of Roggero’s ancestors are to be seen. Sicilian knights and ladies welcome Margarita to Sicily, but when Roggero himself appears, his manner is sufficiently cold to prompt her to challenge him: if he loves someone else rather than her, let him return her to her father’s keeping. Roggero draws his ring from his finger, intending to present it to her over his father’s tomb, but it slips from his grasp, falls into the tomb and is swallowed up. As all cry out in superstitious terror, he stands bewildered and at a loss what to do for a wedding ring, but at this moment Delizia steps forward and offers him hers. The result is a major confrontation. Roggero finds himself challenged by Corrado, Bonello and Giffredo, while Delizia presents herself to Margarita as one of her future husband’s victims. An irate Albarosa orders Roggero to dismiss Delizia and proceed to church. Swords are drawn, and Corrado, who has hitherto concealed his identity beneath his visor, reveals himself and throws his glove down before Roggero. Eventually Delizia and Corrado and their friends withdraw, and the wedding party, their composure completely destroyed, continue their way into the church to complete the marriage rites. ACT TWO. SCENE ONE. A pavilion in Corrado’s camp. His vassals, urged on by Bonello, swear that he and Delizia will be revenged. Delizia, we learn, has been lodged for her safety in a strongly guarded convent. Corrado receives a visit from a hermit, who begs forgiveness on Roggero’s behalf. But Corrado, though his memories of his earlier affection move him to tears, is adamant: if Roggero were here before him, he would promptly strike him down. At this the hermit casts aside his mantle, and reveals that he is none other than Roggero himself. He bids Corrado draw his dagger and strike him dead, but Corrado instead presents him with a sword and deliberately and insultingly provokes him into accompanying him to where they may fight a duel to the death. SCENE TWO. The cloister of a convent in Aragona by night. Off-stage nuns, led by Delizia, offer up their evening prayer. A door from the street outside is forced open, and Roggero appears, in a state of extreme consternation and demoralisation, and carrying a bloody sword. He finds himself face to face with Delizia. Her first reaction is to order him to quit the cloister, but his misery and repentance for his ‘life of abomination’ is so manifest that, in response to his plea that she forgive him before he races into the arms of death, she eventually yields, and, bidding him seek his forgiveness from God, declares that for her part she pardons him. At this point Bonello and Giffredo burst in at the head of a company of knights, guards and populace. Only now does Delizia learn that Roggero has slain her father. His stammering assertion that it was in an engagement of honour counts for nothing. She recoils from him in horror, revokes her pardon and abandons him to his fate. As he is dragged away to death, she collapses and falls to the ground. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra Composer: Federico Ricci Conductor: Roland Böer

Performers:
Dimitra Theodossiou, soprano
Dmitry Korchak, tenor
James Westman, baritone
Ann Taylor
Andrew Foster-Williams
Cora Burggraaf
Camila Roberts
Mark Wilde
Geoffrey Mitchell
Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra