■ Filippo Mineccia particular the drammi per musica composed to librettos by Metastasio, which include Antigono (Naples, 1785), Catone in Utica (Naples, 1789) and Alessandro nell’Indie (Modena, 1774).
Paisiello was an admirer of Metastasio, though it is doubtful that the poet, who died in 1782, would have reciprocated such admiration. The composer’s serious style lacks something of the nobility and gravitas earlier composers of opera seria brought to the books of Metastasio, the fundamental simplicity of his style being better suited to lighter themes. That Paisiello was capable of effective writing in a heroic style is demonstrated by the disc’s opening aria, ‘Meglio rifletti’ from Antigono, its rhetoric well caught by Mineccia. Yet it is probably in the more sentimental andantes of the arias from Catone in Utica and Antigono that the composer comes closest to engaging the listener. ‘Già che morir’ from the latter in particular is ravishingly lovely, the cantabile vocal line floated over whispering, gently undulating muted strings. In addition to the Paisiello arias Mineccia also includes arias by three of his contemporaries, among which that from Giacomo Tritto’s Artenice (Naples, 1784) suggests a composer who might be worthy of further investigation. It is ostensibly a conventional enough storm simile aria, but the development of the main section is especially impressive.
Mineccia approaches all this music with a well-placed and rounded countertenor at its best in its middle register, though capable of fine ringing tones in the upper range. As with many of his peers, however, the voice is not always well controlled and those upper notes are frequently too loud. His ornamentation is mostly stylish—the odd cadenza less so—and the fairly modest coloratura demands well met. Diction is good and Mineccia displays a keen awareness for textural nuance, the telling little stress on ‘m’offendi’ from the Catone aria a case in point. He is decently if not especially perceptively supported by the period instrument players of Divino Sospiro. The CD should certainly be heard by anyone interested in the byways of later 18th-century Italian opera. brian robins
Ruth-Margret Pütz—Recital Extracts from Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Ariadne auf Naxos; ‘Ah, non sai qual pena sia’ (Mozart). With various soloists, orchestras and conductors. Profil PH 18012 (one CD)
The career of the German coloratura soprano Ruth-Margret Pütz (who, happily, is still with us) lasted from the 1949-50 season to her farewell in 1994-5, and she was a mainstay of leading German and Austrian stages for decades.
Opera, December 2018