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This revelatory 2010 recording of Leoncavallo's I Medici, written before Pagliacci, but not produced until 1893, ought to be the occasion for a reevaluation of the composer's gifts. Pagliacci demonstrates his ability to create music ideally suited to the particular dramatic situation, as does his version of La bohFme, another relatively small-scale, intimate work, although that opera doesn't show the same level of inspiration. With I Medici, though, an epic modeled on Wagner and initially intended to be the first part in a trilogy that would be the Italian answer to Der Ring des Nibelungen, Leoncavallo shows that in response to the scale of his subject, he can write music of real grandeur. The opera is flawed, so it is understandable that it has not entered the repertoire, but the sophistication, nobility, delicacy, and variety of the music will be an eye-opener for listeners who know the composer only for the rough-hewn (though brilliant) verismo of Pagliacci. It's thoroughly Italianate, but... Hide synopsis

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