Composers: Franco Faccio
Compositions: Amleto
Performers: Pavel Černoch t, Wiener Symphoniker/Paolo Carignani
Catalogue Number: Naxos 8660454-55 (2CD)

This Hamlet comes to us from the Italian composer and conductor Franco Faccio (1840-91), its libretto by none other than Arrigo Boito, who would later team up with Verdi on two Shakespearean dazzlers, Otello and Falstaff. Although warmly received at its premiere in Genoa in 1865, Faccio’s Hamlet became consigned to the dustbin of history when presented at La Scala six years later. The opera has enjoyed something of a revival in the last few years – a critical edition was created by conductor Anthony Barrese and premiered by Opera Southwest in 2014, and in 2016 it was mounted by Opera Bregenz and released on DVD.

This CD captures those Bregenz performances and shows it to be a work worthy of the fuss. The vocal writing is very fine, with music for the chorus engaging and formally intriguing. Much of the score will put you in mind of Gounod, especially the use of woodwinds. A most pleasant surprise is how (relatively) lithe the opera feels, managing to condense the play into two and a half hours.

Paolo Carignani and the Wiener Symphoniker make a good case for it, as do the strong cast headed by tenor Pavel Cˇernoch in the title role. He’s eloquent, mercurial and impassioned, matched in conviction by Iulia Maria Dan’s vivid Ophelia. Dshamilja Kaiser brings warmth and gravitas to Gertrude, while Claudio Sgura is suitably devious as the King.