Coffee with…. Dandini & Don Magnifico

OPERA Charm Magazine brings in front of you, our readers, your favorite opera characters, throughout the most creative interviews to their top performers! Last year, around this time, MARCO FILIPPO ROMANO & ROBERTO DE CANDIA were performing Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Teatro Comunale di Bologna and we could not have missed the chance to have a double interview with them. This year, to celebrate the anniversary of the first interview, here we are again, this time having Coffee with… Don Magnifico & Dandini, characters that the two of them will soon perform at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova – an interview by ALICE LECHNER.

MARCO FILIPPO ROMANO confessed that, the first time he has ever listened to La Cenerentola was in the theater, during the rehearsals for his debut as Don Magnifico, in a “pocket” version of the opera, for the Aslico circuit. It was only in 2011, in Bologna, when he debuted in the complete version of the opera – a production of Daniele Abbado, conducted by M° Michele Mariotti. “I immediately realized that I had a masterpiece in front of me, different from the Il Barbiere di Siviglia or L’Italiana in Algeri in that I had previously debuted. There is something magical about the music, the concertati first of all, and then quintet”. He got ready for this debut with “a great musical trainer” as he describes M° Carmen Santoro. “These were fundamental lessons that still ring in my ears today. The rhythm in the recitatives and the musical rhythm are fundamental to understanding the character of Don Magnifico”. Indeed, Donizetti wrote three arias for Don Magnifico, each with different characteristics. He is without any doubt “the most complex buffo character of Rossini”. Vocally wise, the role has a wide vocal extension, requires both articulation and legato in order to decry the complexity of his character. And due to this complexity, the singer needs to “excavate” the various facets of the role: from cruel, to hilarious or awkward moments. “Don Magnifico is the victim of his own careerism, a person full of weaknesses – definitely not a simple person, shrewd, but fascinated by compliments. His main characteristic is the cynicism, which results in violence at times, especially towards Angelina (Cenerentola), who is not his daughter. Therefore, is places in a lower rank in his hierarchy of affection”, says Marco Filippo. The Cenerentola recordings that the singer prefers are the one published by Decca, conducted by M° Chailly, with the great Enzo Dara, and the one conducted by M° Gui with Sesto Bruscantini – “an undisputed masterpiece”, he says.

It was 1991 when ROBERTO DE CANDIA performed for the first time a Rossini role, after having won the the Spoleto A.Belli International Competition in the previous year. The jury decided give him the chance to debut Dandini. “It was a shock for me to face all those notes in a single score and I was desperate at the beginning”, but he had the life changing experience of studying under the guidance of Sesto Bruscantini, the greatest Dandini, “not only of his generation”, says De Candia. “The role of Dandini is not the usual buffo Rossini role”, he continues. “The fact that he is in disguise, acting like the Prince, is reflected also on his vocal part”. Indeed, Dandini’s introductory aria has a structure more typical to the Rossini tenor arias: a fantastic Cantabile followed by an incredible coloratura in the second half. Usually the baritone gets to sing sillabato, but not this time. Also, the vocal range is quite wide, always with agility. “It’s exciting and challenging at the same time!”, says De Candia. Dandini is the Prince’s equerry and he is asked by the Prince to substitute him while searching for a soulmate. They switch roles so that the Prince can look better at “women’s heart”, as he says in a recitative. Dandini, therefore, has the change to play the role of the royalty and he enjoys every second of it. In the end, they both fall under the spell of the beautiful soul of Cenerentola. Even though he doesn’t usually look for inspiration in recordings, De Candia agrees with Marco Filippo: Brusantini’s, alongside with the one published by Decca, conducted by M° Chailly, are the best!

Read the entire interview here, in the 8th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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