The year began with a salute to Eve Queler and her Opera Orchestra of New York,so Trove Thursday sneaks in one more OONY offering before 2021 ends: Verdi’s rare La Battaglia di Legnano from 1987 with (M)aprile Millo, Mario Malagnini, and Matteo Manuguerra.
Trove Thursday has previously posted another competitor for the composer’s most obscure work—Alzira—but Legnano is stiff competition although the latter did open the 1961 La Scala season with Antonietta Stella, Franco Corelli and Ettore Bastianini. OONY would also repeat Legnano in 2001 with Krassimira Stoyanova, Francisco Casanova and Carlo Guelfi.
Many of opera’s greatest stars performed with OONY during its 40+ years but few appeared with Queler as often as Millo. Their first Carnegie Hall performance together was in January 1986 as I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata’s Giselda with Carlo Begonzi and Paul Plishka which remains available in a Trove Thursday post from three years ago.
But Millo’s initial OONY engagement came in November 1984, a month before the 26-year-old soprano’s Met debut replacing Anna Tomowa-Sintow as Amelia in the new Simon Boccanegra. Often OONY would present its cover cast in a full public performance with orchestra and chorus prior to the Carnegie Hall show. So ten days before Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell arrived downtown with Stefka Evstatieva, Franco Bonisolli and Piero Cappuccilli, the Lehman Center in the Bronx hosted Millo, Chris Merritt and Roger L. Howell.
An enterprising pirate recorded that performance in superb sound, and I’m including Matilde’s aria and the Matilde-Arnoldo duet as a supplement to the Verdi.
Following Legnano, Millo would appear with OONY from 1988-90 in Andrea Chénier, Il Pirata, and La Wally. As it turned out she wouldn’t perform again with the organization for a dozen years although she was announced for 1994’s Caterina Cornaro but withdrew following an automobile accident.
A triumphant return came in 2002 with Adriana Lecouvreur co-starring Dolora Zajick and Marcello Giordani, followed by La Gioconda and La Fanciulla del West, both in 2004. It’s my understanding that these Carnegie/OONY outings were the only times the diva performed her Bellini, Catalani, Cilea and Puccini roles!
Manuguerra, the superb French baritone, appeared nearly as often with OONY as Millo. Beginning in 1972, he collaborated with Queler in L’Africaine (with Stella and Richard Tucker), Francesca da Rimini (murdering Raina Kabaivanska and Placido Domingo), I Masnadieri, Lucrezia Borgia (unhappily married to Katia Ricciarelli), Il Duca d’Alba, and reunited with Millo for his final OONY outing in 1990 in Wally.
Verdi: La Battaglia di Legnano
Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall
12 January 1987
Lida: Aprile Millo
Imelda: Gail Limansky
Arrigo: Mario Malagnini
Rolando: Matteo Manuguerra
Barbarosa: Jerome Hines
1st Consul: Jose Garcia
2nd Consul: Mark Watson
Marcovaldo: Ned Barth
Herald: Gregory Hpkins
Mayor: Frank Barr
Conductor: Eve Queler
Rossini: Guglielmo Tell—exc.
Opera Orchestra of New York at Lehman Center
10 November 1984
Mathilde: Aprile Millo
Arnoldo: Chris Merritt
Conductor: Eve Queler
Legnano and the Tell excerpts can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.
The archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer was up-to-dated recently.