Zandonai: Francesca da Rimini

Reviewed on Tue 19 Jan, 2016

Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini is loosely based on the life of a real 13th-century lady immortalised by Dante. The score is through-composed and really does move. The singing is really good, Christina Vasileva being exceptional with her quietly floated top notes.

Tricked into marriage with Giannciotto while in love with his brother Paolo, Francesca is also desired by their third brother Malatestino. This opera is loosely based on the life of a real 13th-century lady immortalised by Dante. The opera is through-composed and really does move. There is much contrast varying from light-heartedness to war, tenderness to hatred and treachery. This is all in the extremely expressive score by Riccardo Zandonai (1883-1944), a contemporary of Puccini. Exquisite music from chorus and orchestra accompanies the lovers’ first meeting. There is warlike music for the battle, and it becomes even more aggressive for the entrance of Giannciotto, and eerie when Francesca thinks Paolo is dead. It is most lyrical when the lovers are alone in Act III, more reflective – although no aria form and absolutely no repetition. The singing is really good, Christina Vasileva being exceptional with her quietly floated top notes. Libretto included.
–Ruth Piatkus