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Frossini: Excerpts

Cover Photo: Voula Papaioannou

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Catalog Number: CPS-8662
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 73:52
Release Date: 1999

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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Intermezzo (8:34)
    ACT II
Elia (13:27)  
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Was It August? (6:01)
The Windmill (5:59)
Calm, Storm and Sunburst (13:17)
Frossini at Sunset (7:14)
Contemplation (4:57)
Revelries and Distractions (2:30)
  9. Anguish (4:10)
  10. Entrance of the Guards and Resignation (5:30)


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American Record Guide - November/December 1999 - Parsons

"F. DiArta-Angeli is the pseudonym of Gerasimos Nicholas Tsandoulas. The composer was born (no year given) in Arta in the province of Epirus in Northwestern Greece. He was not introduced to classical music until well into his teens, when he was sent to the United States to be educated at Phillips Exeter, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania. "Professional career pressures" (the booklet does not say what) took precedence, and it was not until the 1980s that he was able to devote himself to serious composition. DiArta's music is fully in the Western tradition - tonal romanticism, with a classical purity of line, simple and direct expression - heavy on the romanticism.

DiArta based Frossini on Greek-Turkish history as expressed in the epic poem Kyra Frossini by the 19th Century poet A. Valaoritis. He also added poems by Lorentzos Mavilis, C Palamas, and Cavafy. The opera concerns Ali Pasha (1741-1822), governor of European Turkey, with the city of Yannena in the Greek province of Epirus as the capital. Ali Pasha was quite ruthless, devoid of morals. Although nominally in the service of the Sultan of Constantinople, Ali Pasha managed freely with the European powers, including Napoleon. He was even visited by Lord Byron, who makes a cameo appearance in the opera. Ali's rebellion against the Sultan failed and he was imprisoned on a small island in Lake Yannena. He was eventually shot there by the Sultan's agents. The opera's central character is Frossini, a Greek woman of great beauty living in Yannena. She became the mistress of Mouchtar, Ali's eldest son. Mouchtar's Muslim wives plotted against her and caused her downfall. Another tradition says that Frossini attracted the unwanted attentions of Ali himself. When she resisted his advances, Ali accused her of treason and had her executed by drowning in the lake of Yannena.

The disc contains ten extensive excerpts from the opera, including what seems to be almost the entire final scene (Act 3, Scene 2). A hauntingly beautiful orchestral Intermezzo from Act 2 begins the recording. The excerpts are settings of individual poems (of the poets listed above) interpolated into the story. An extended aria for Frossini's death concludes the work. It is a little difficult to follow exactly what is happening, for, despite a fairly detailed plot synopsis the libretto is represented only by four of the sung poems in English translation, with the original Greek text in Greek script. Still, it is easy enough to understand the outline of the story. What is truly impressive here is the music. It has a gentle melancholy, a wistful tunefulness about it, steeped in full-blown romantic tradition. It's very listenable and quite moving in a vague sort of way. I wish the entire opera had been recorded.

The performances are quite fine, especially mezzo-soprano Ann Agathonos as Frossini's devoted maid Chrissi. Agathonos has a rich, warm, smokey voice, lushly produced. I could wish for more tonal allure (a bit less edge) from Malakate's Frossini, but she is deep into the role's dramatics and is a pointed contrast vocally to Agathonos. Conductor Suben and the Slovak Orchestra make much of their orchestral assignments, with lots of atmosphere and romance."