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Guglielmo Ratcliff is a tragic opera in four acts by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Andrea Maffei, translated from the German play Wilhelm Ratcliff by Heinrich Heine.
Pietro Mascagni
Guglielmo Ratcliff (2CD)
RTE Lyric FM
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Price £14.99
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• In October 2015 Wexford Festival opera staged their critically acclaimed production of Pietro Mascagni’s own favourite opera, Guglielmo Ratcliff where it played to a sold-out house every night and was broadcast live on RTÉ lyric fm and to public service radio stations around Europe. The recording of Guglielmo Ratcliff has now been remixed and released as a lavish double CD with accompanying programme notes, libretto in Italian/English, and selected production photographs by Clive Barda. The Spectator said after Wexford that Guglielmo Ratcliff “...deserves to become a classic” while The Daily Telegraph described the production as “...superbly stylish in white, ivory and silver....and Francesco Cilluffo conducts Mascagni’s overheated score with absolute conviction.” All of the principals were acclaimed for their roles with the eponymous Ratcliff being played by tenor Angelo Villari “...with a combination of virile, trumpety ‘squillo’ and genuine musicianship – a discovery!” said The Sunday Times. The opera is based on a tale of unrequited love Heinrich Heine that struck a particular chord with Mascagni as he had been in love with a girl from his home town of Livorno who ultimately rejected him as a suitor. Although he started work on his version of the Ratcliff story while studying at the Milan Conservatory, it more than ten years later before the composer conducted his Guglielmo Ratcliff from the podium of La Scala. The complexities of staging and challenges facing singers in the title roles meant that the opera has rarely been performed or recorded.

• Recorded in performance 31 October 2015 at Wexford Festival Opera

• Guglielmo Ratcliff - Angelo Villari (tenor) Maria - Mariangela Sicilia (soprano) Count Douglas - David Stout (baritone) Margherita - Annunziata Vestri (mezzo-soprano) MacGregor - Gianluca Buratto (bass) Lesley - Alexandros Tsilogiannis (tenor) Tom - Quentin Hayes (bass) Willie - Sarah Richmond (mezzo-soprano) Orchestra and Chorus of Wexford Festival Opera conductor Franceso Cilluffo
Reviews For Guglielmo Ratcliff (2CD)
Myscena - Norman Lebrecht
On his deathbed half a century later, the composer insisted it was his best work. What catches the ear immediately is the richness of the score, the cast is impeccable, the tenor formidable, the chorus excellent. It's a delight.
Music Web Int - Robert J Farr
Francesco Cilluffo conducts the performance with a feel for the music and its period, it's particularly distinguished.
Music Web Int - Goran Forsling
Opera lovers who only know the intermezzo should definitely try this set. There is a lot of good stuff here.
Gramophone - Mark Pullinger
Francesco Cilluffo draws a terrific orchestral performance.
BBC Music Mag - George Hall
The cast attacks some tremendously difficult roles with assurance, notably the bold and brave tenor Angelo Villari. ****