Leoncavallo: Zazà


2 disc set
Single Track Download

With the release of Zazà, Opera Rara marks its first recording venture into the musical world of Leoncavallo and the operatic tradition of verismo.

  • Opera category nomination for 2017 International Classical Music Awards
  • CD (Complete Opera) category nomination for 2017 International Opera Awards
Catalogue Number: ORC55 Categories: ,
  1. Introduzione Buy Track 0:30
  2. Brava! Brava! Buy Track 0:30
  3. Stasera sono in voce! Buy Track 0:30
  4. Salute, ragazzi Buy Track 0:30
  5. Buona sera, mia Zazà! Buy Track 0:30
  6. Lo sai tu che vuol dire un uom che fugge Buy Track 0:30
  7. Tu sei buona Buy Track 0:30
  8. Augusto, buona sera! Buy Track 0:30
  9. Ah! Ah! Ahi, la, la! Buy Track 0:30
  10. Ebben, Zazà? Buy Track 0:30
  11. Un uomo sol restavaci Buy Track 0:30
  12. Dufresne, contarvene voglio una bella Buy Track 0:30
  13. È un riso gentile Buy Track 0:30
  14. Allor tutto va bene! Buy Track 0:30
  15. Non so capir perché se m'ami tu Buy Track 0:30
  16. Ma bravi! Che delizia! Buy Track 0:30
  17. Signore, entrate Buy Track 0:30
  18. Ripetiamo... Ma prima vo' cambiar veste Buy Track 0:30
  19. Vi duole? Buy Track 0:30
  20. Su Zazà! Buy Track 0:30
  21. A te, Cascart... Buy Track 0:30
  22. È deciso: tu parti per questo gran viaggio? Buy Track 0:30
  23. Zazà, Zazà, no ti attristare Buy Track 0:30
  24. Or tempo e baci per guadagnare Buy Track 0:30
  25. Fa presto, Natalia! Buy Track 0:30
  26. Ecco gli stivaletti, signora... Buy Track 0:30
  27. Zazà!... Buy Track 0:30
  28. Ehm! Ehm! Buy Track 0:30
  29. Ah, ah, ah! Che quadretto! Buy Track 0:30
  30. Cascart, mio camerata Buy Track 0:30
  31. Buona Zazà Buy Track 0:30
  32. A Parigi una sera Buy Track 0:30
  33. Ah! Perche soletta sei laggiù? Buy Track 0:30
  34. O mio piccolo tavolo Buy Track 0:30
  35. Ecomi pronta, Milio... Buy Track 0:30
  36. Lei dunque è la signora Dunoyer? Buy Track 0:30
  37. Qual turbamento! Buy Track 0:30
  38. Signora, buona signora Buy Track 0:30
  39. Signorina, vi abbiamo spaurita? Buy Track 0:30
  40. Mamma usciva di casa Buy Track 0:30
  41. È finita! Buy Track 0:30
  42. È mammà Buy Track 0:30
  43. Così, nessuna nuova? Buy Track 0:30
  44. Figliuola mia! Buy Track 0:30
  45. Zazà, piccola zingara Buy Track 0:30
  46. Che?... Noon vorresti farlo? Buy Track 0:30
  47. Per buona sorte tutto è a suo posto... Buy Track 0:30
  48. Che notizie mi pori da Parigi? Buy Track 0:30
  49. Ebbene si, so tutto! Buy Track 0:30
  50. Zazà, tu mi rimproveri Buy Track 0:30
  51. Questo delitto hai compiuto? Buy Track 0:30
  52. Ed ora io mi domando Buy Track 0:30
  53. Basta! Ritorna pur nella tua dimora Buy Track 0:30
  54. Che ho fatto? Buy Track 0:30


With the release of Zazà, we mark our first recording venture into the musical world of Leoncavallo and the operatic tradition of verismo. Maurizio Benini – Opera Rara’s Associate Conductor – leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Ermonela Jaho in her recording debut as the eponymous Zazà. Jaho is joined by Riccardo Massi as her lover Milio; Stephen Gaertner as her onstage partner and former lover Cascart; and Patricia Bardon as her mother Anaide. Written in 1900 for the Teatro Lirico di Milano and conducted at its première by Toscanini, Zazà was Leoncavallo’s most popular opera after Pagliacci. In the 20 years following its première, Zazà received over 50 new productions in opera houses around the world and became the chosen showcase for famous sopranos such as Rosina Storchio, who created the role, and Geraldine Farrar. With its infectious dance tunes and colourful orchestration making use of French popular music styles which Leoncavallo would have encountered in the capital, the verismo of Zazà is a far cry from the harsh, low-life realism of Pagliacci. Yet, where the composer’s first opera remains one of the most performed operatic works today, Zazà has all but fallen out of the repertory. Opera Rara’s revival of Zazà is based on Leoncavallo’s own 1919 revision of his score which has been carefully researched by Maurizio Benini.


Ermonela Jaho (Zaza); Riccardo Massi (Milio); Stephen Gaertner (Cascart); Patricia Bardon (Anaide); David Stout (Bussy); Nicky Spence (Courtois); Kathryn Rudge (Natalia); Simon Thorpe (Duclou); Fflur Wyn (Floriana); Julia Ferri (Toto); Renato Balsadonna, Chorus Director; BBC Singers, Maurizio Benini - conductor


Act 1
The Alcazar in Saint-Étienne, the 1890s. The curtain rises on the backstage area of a music hall, the Alcazar. A stage band is intermittently heard accompanying various acts in the Alcazar’s main auditorium, almost all of which remain out of sight. Zazà is the star of the establishment while Floriana is her rival. The act as a whole is punctuated by the entrance and exit of characters who converse with Zazà. These include Duclou, the stage manager; Cascart, a fellow singer who launched Zazà’s modest career and used to be her lover; Natalia, her maid; Anaide, her alcoholic mother; Bussy, a journalist with whom Zazà wagers she will be able to seduce a man named Milio Dufresne, and Milio himself, an international businessman on whom Zazà has set her sights. Milio is at first reluctant to make advances towards Zazà because he believes people of his social status should avoid wild, mad passion, but as the act progresses he loses his will to resist her blatant advances and when she least expects it, embraces her with tender kisses. Zazà is ecstatic, so much so that she fails to enter on cue for a duet with Cascart. The audience at the Alcazar must wait until she has regained her composure.
Act 2
Zazà’s apartment in Saint-Étienne, some time later. Zazà has fallen completely in love with Milio. He is about to depart for America but Zazà protests so much that he promises to postpone the trip. Milio instead leaves for Paris; he tells Zazà he will return shortly. Anaide and Cascart both call on Zazà. Anaide has a hunch her daughter’s new romance is a bad idea; Cascart, meanwhile, has seen Milio with another woman at a theatre in Paris. When he discloses this to Zazà she resolves to track him down and rushes out the door with her maid Natalia in tow.
Act 3
The drawing room in Milio’s home in Paris, a short time later. At his desk, Milio contemplates his imminent return to Saint-Étienne, where he wants to see Zazà one last time before he departs for America with his family. He leaves the house with his wife, who tells the butler, Marco, that a Madame Dunoyer will call shortly. Zazà arrives at the house in search of evidence that Milio has a lover. The butler asks if she is Madame Dunoyer. Zazà pretends that she is, and is therefore allowed to enter with Natalia. While waiting in the drawing room for Milio to return, Zazà sees a letter addressed to a Madame Dufresne and thus learns that Milio has not a mere sweetheart, but a wife. Milio’s daughter, Totò, enters the drawing room moments later. Zazà is moved to tears by the beautiful child, who converses with her and performs a Cherubini Ave Maria at the piano. Madame Dufresne returns, embarrassed to find the strangers in her home; Zazà claims that she came to the house by accident, says a tender goodbye to Totò, and leaves without breathing a word about her romance with Milio.

Act 4
Zazà’s apartment in Saint-Étienne, a short time later. Zazà has been absent from the Alcazar and the impresario Courtois is concerned about declining box-office receipts. He asks Anaide about Zazà’s whereabouts. Zazà, however, soon enters in a daze; her maid Natalia and Cascart follow. The latter tries to comfort Zazà but also reminds her she must release Milio because his sole duty is to his family. Unaware that Zazà visited his home in Paris, Milio returns to Saint-Étienne. Zazà embraces him and they lunch together, but an incensed Zazà quickly reveals that she knows he has a family. Milio asks her not to reproach him for loving her so madly that he risked an affair. Zazà however tells him she went to his home and met his family; what is more, she falsely claims she told his wife about their romance. In anger, Milio reveals his true colours: he calls Zazà a slut and not until he learns the truth about her interaction with his wife does he feel remorse. Mindful that Totò needs her father, Zazà dismisses him from her life.


1. Akt
Alcazar in Saint-Étienne, um 1890. Wir befinden uns hinter der Bühne eines Varieté-Theaters, dem Alcazar. Immer wieder ist eine Bühnenband zu hören, die verschiedene Darbietungen vor dem Publikum vor der Hauptbühne des Alcazar begleitet, die jedoch kaum zu sehen sind. Zazà ist der Star des Theaters, Floriana ist ihre Rivalin. Der gesamte Akt wird vom Auftritt und Abgang von Charakteren bestimmt, die sich mit Zazà unterhalten. Dazu gehören der Regisseur Duclou, der Sängerkollege Cascart, der Zazàs Karriere ermöglichte und einmal ihr Geliebter war, ihr Dienstmädchen Natalia, ihre alkoholische Mutter Anaide, der Journalist Bussy, mit dem sie wettet, dass sie einen Mann namens Milio Dufresne verführen kann, und Milio selbst, ein internationaler Geschäftsmann, an dem Zazà Gefallen gefunden hat. Zunächst sind die Annäherungsversuche Milios an Zazà sehr zögerlich, da er aufgrund seiner sozialen Stellung der Meinung ist, wilder Leidenschaft aus dem Weg gehen zu müssen. Im Verlaufe des Akts jedoch verliert er den Willen, sich ihrer offensichtlichen Annäherungsversuche zu erwehren und umarmt und küsst sie zärtlich, als sie es am wenigsten erwartet. Zazà ist im siebten Himmel – und so berauscht, dass sie ihren Auftritt während eines Duetts mit Cascart verpasst. Das Publikum des Alcazar muss sich gedulden, bis sie sich gesammelt hat.
2. Akt
Zazàs Wohnung in Saint-Étienne, etwas später. Zazà hat sich Hals über Kopf in Milio verliebt. Der trifft gerade Vorbereitungen für eine Reise nach Amerika, doch Zazà protestiert so lange, bis er verspricht, die Reise zu verschieben. Stattdessen fährt Milio nach Paris und sagt Zazà, er werde in Kürze zurück sein. Anaide und Cascart besuchen beide Zazà. Anaide befürchtet, dass die Romanze ihrer Tochter keine gute Idee ist und Cascart hat Milio in einem Pariser Theater mit einer anderen Frau beobachtet. Als er Zazà davon berichtet, beschließt sie, ihn ausfindig zu machen und verlässt stürmisch die Wohnung, ihr Dienstmädchen Natalia im Schlepptau.
3. Akt
Der Salon von Milios Familie in Paris, ein wenig später. Milio denkt, an seinem Schreibtisch sitzend, über seine baldige Rückkehr nach Saint-Étienne nach, wo er sich ein letztes Mal mit Zazà treffen möchte, bevor er mit seiner Familie nach Amerika aufbricht. Er verlässt das Haus mit seiner Ehefrau, die dem Diener Marco mitteilt, dass in Kürze eine Madame Dunoyer zu Besuch kommen wird. Zazà erreicht das Haus auf der Suche nach Beweisen dafür, dass Milio eine Geliebte hat. Der Butler fragt, ob sie die angekündigte Madame Dunoyer sei. Zazà gibt vor, diese zu sein und darf somit zusammen mit Natalia das Haus betreten. Während sie im Salon auf die Rückkehr Milios wartet, entdeckt Zazà einen an eine Madame Dufresne adressierten Brief und findet auf diesem Weg heraus, dass Milio nicht nur eine Geliebte, sondern eine Ehefrau hat. Milios Tochter Totò betritt einige Augenblicke später den Salon. Zazà ist von dem schönen Kind zu Tränen gerührt, das mit ihr Konversation macht und ihr das Ave Maria des Komponisten Cherubini auf dem Klavier vorspielt. Madame Dufresne kehrt zurück und ist entsetzt, eine Fremde in Ihrem Haus vorzufinden. Zazà gibt vor, sich im Haus geirrt zu haben, wünscht Totò liebevoll auf Wiedersehen und verlässt das Haus, ohne ein Wort über ihr Verhältnis zu Milio zu verlieren.
4. Akt
Zazàs Wohnung in Saint-Étienne, etwas später. Zazà ist seit einer Weile nicht mehr im Alcazar aufgetreten und der Impresario Courtois ist wegen der schlechten Kartenverkäufe besorgt. Er erkundigt sich bei Anaide nach Zazàs Verbleib. Zazà jedoch trifft kurz darauf benommen ein, ihr Dienstmädchen Natalia und Cascart folgen ihr. Cascart versucht Zazà zu trösten, erinnert sie jedoch auch daran, dass sie Milio ziehen lassen muss, da er nur seiner Familie verpflichtet ist. Milio, der nicht weiß, dass Zazà bei ihm zuhause in Paris war, kehrt nach Saint-Étienne zurück. Zazà umarmt ihn und sie gehen gemeinsam Mittagessen, doch die aufgekratzte Zazà verrät bald, dass sie von seiner Familie weiß. Milio bittet sie um Verzeihung dafür, dass er sie so sehr liebt, dass er dafür sogar eine Affäre riskiert. Zazà jedoch erzählt ihm, dass sie bei ihm zuhause war und seine Familie getroffen hat – und nicht nur das: Sie habe seiner Frau von der Affäre berichtet. Der verärgerte Milio zeigt da zum ersten Mal sein wahres Gesicht: Er beschimpft Zazà als Dirne und zeigt keinerlei Reue, bis sie ihm von den wahren Geschehnissen in Paris berichtet. Mit dem Gedanken an Totò, die ihren Vater braucht, lässt Zazà Milio aus ihrem Leben ziehen.


Atto 1
L’Alcazar di Saint-Étienne, anni 90 del XIX secolo. Si alza il sipario rivelando il dietro le quinte di una sala concerti, l’Alcazar. Un’orchestra, che si ode a tratti e si intravede appena, accompagna gli atti messi in scena nell’auditorium principale. Zazà è la stella della compagnia e Floriana la sua rivale. L’intero atto è caratterizzato da un viavai di personaggi che conversano con Zazà. Tra questi: Duclou, il direttore di scena; Cascart, un cantante della compagnia che ha lanciato la modesta carriera di Zazà e in passato ne è stato l’amante; Natalia, la cameriera di Zazà; Anaide, la madre alcolizzata di Zazà; Bussy, un giornalista con cui Zazà scommette di riuscire a sedurre un uomo di nome Milio Dufresne, un uomo d’affari di livello internazionale su cui Zazà ha messo gli occhi. Sulle prime Milio è riluttante ad accettare le avance di Zazà, poiché è convinto che la gente del suo rango non dovrebbe lasciarsi andare a passioni folli e sfrenate. Entrando nel vivo dell’atto, però, le sfacciate avance di lei riescono a far breccia nel cuore dell’uomo che, quando lei meno se l’aspetta, l’abbraccia e la bacia teneramente. Zazà è euforica, tanto da dimenticarsi di entrare in scena al momento giusto per un duetto con Cascart. Il pubblico dell’Alcazar deve attendere finché Zazà non torna in sé.
Atto 2
Appartamento di Zazà a Saint-Étienne, qualche tempo dopo. Zazà ormai è perdutamente innamorata di Milio. Milio sta per partire per l’America, ma Zazà protesta così tanto che l’uomo le promette di posticipare il viaggio. Quest’ultimo parte invece per Parigi, dicendo a Zazà che non starà via a lungo. Anaide e Cascart fanno visita a Zazà. Mentre Anaide non vede di buon occhio la nuova relazione della figlia, Cascart, nel frattempo, scopre Milio in compagnia di un’altra donna in un teatro di Parigi. Cascart lo confida a Zazà che, determinata a mettersi sulle tracce di Milio, ed esce da casa come una furia, accompagnata dalla sua cameriera Natalia.

Atto 3
Nel salotto della casa di Milio a Parigi, poco tempo dopo. Milio è alla sua scrivania e riflette sull’imminente ritorno a Saint-Étienne, dove ha intenzione di rivedere Zazà un’ultima volta prima di partire definitivamente per l’America con la sua famiglia. Prima che lui e sua moglie escano di casa, quest’ultima lascia detto al maggiordomo Marco che una certa Madame Dunoyer passerà di lì a breve. Zazà arriva alla residenza di Milio in cerca delle prove della sua infedeltà. Quando il maggiordomo le domanda se sia lei Madame Dunoyer, Zazà annuisce fingendosi tale e viene accolta in casa insieme a Natalia. Mentre aspetta il ritorno di Milio in salotto, Zazà trova una lettera indirizzata a Madame Dufresne e apprende così che quella dell’uomo non è semplicemente un’amante, ma una moglie. Poco dopo la figlia di Milio, Totò, entra in salotto. Zazà si commuove fino alle lacrime alla vista di quella bellissima bambina, la quale conversa con lei e suona al pianoforte l’Ave Maria di Cherubini. Al suo rientro, Madame Dufresne è confusa nel ritrovarsi a casa due sconosciute. Zazà dichiara di trovarsi lì per sbaglio, saluta Totò con affetto e se ne va senza dire una parola sulla relazione con Milio.
Atto 4
Appartamento di Zazà a Saint-Étienne, qualche tempo dopo. Dal suo ritorno, Zazà è rimasta assente dall’Alcazar e l’impresario Courtois è molto preoccupato per il calo di incassi. L’uomo si rivolge ad Anaide per avere notizie di Zazà. Ben presto Zazà entra in un uno stato confusionale e Cascart e la sua cameriera Natalia vanno a farle visita. Nel tentativo di confortare Zazà, Cascart le ricorda anche che il dovere di Milio è quello di rimanere accanto alla sua famiglia. Nel frattempo, ignaro che Zazà sia stata a casa sua a Parigi, Milio torna a Saint-Étienne. Zazà lo accoglie a braccia aperte e i due pranzano insieme. Tuttavia, in uno scatto d’ira, Zazà rivela all’improvviso di sapere che lui ha una famiglia. Milio le chiede di non biasimarlo per il fatto di amarla a tal punto da rischiare di avere una relazione. Zazà però gli racconta di essere stata a casa sua e di aver conosciuto la sua famiglia; inoltre, dichiarando il falso, gli dice di aver detto a sua moglie della loro relazione. Allora Milio, furioso, si rivela per quello che è realmente: insulta Zazà, dandole della poco di buono, e non prova alcun rimorso finché non apprende la verità sull’incontro di Zazà con sua moglie. Consapevole di quanto Totò abbia bisogno di suo padre, Zazà allontana Milio dalla sua vita.


Acte 1
L’Alcazar à Saint-Étienne, les années 1890. Le rideau se lève sur les coulisses d’un music-hall, l’Alcazar. Un orchestre, la plupart du temps caché, accompagne par intermittence différents actes de l’auditorium principal de l’Alcazar. Zazà est la protagoniste du lieu tandis que Floriana est sa rivale. L’ensemble de l’acte est ponctué par l’entrée et la sortie de personnages qui conversent avec Zazà. Ce sont Duclou, le régisseur ; Cascart, un compagnon chanteur qui a lancé la modeste carrière de Zazà et partagé sa vie ; Natalia, sa domestique ; Anaide, sa mère alcoolique ; Bussy, une journaliste avec laquelle Zazà parie qu’elle sera capable de séduire un homme nommé Milio Dufresne, et Milio lui-même, un homme d’affaires international sur lequel Zazà a des vues. Milio est tout d’abord hostile à l’idée de faire des avances à Zazà parce qu’il pense que les gens de son rang social doivent éviter la passion folle et enragée, mais au fil de l’acte, sa volonté de résistance aux avances flagrantes de Zazà l’abandonne et lorsqu’elle s’y attend le moins, il l’embrasse et lui donne de tendres baisers. Zazà est aux anges, à tel point qu’elle oublie d’entrer en scène pour faire son duo avec Cascart. Le public de l’Alcazar doit attendre qu’elle reprenne ses esprits.
Acte 2
L’appartement de Zazà à Saint-Étienne, quelque temps après. Zazà est totalement éprise de Milio. Celui-ci est sur le point de partir pour l’Amérique mais Zazà proteste tellement que Milio promet de reporter son voyage. Il se rend à Paris à la place et affirme à Zazà qu’il reviendra promptement. Anaide et Cascart rendent tous deux visite à Zazà. Anaide a le pressentiment que la nouvelle idylle de sa fille est une mauvaise idée ; Cascart, quant à lui, a vu Milio avec une autre femme au théâtre à Paris. Lorsqu’il l’apprend à Zazà, celle-ci décide de le retrouver et sort précipitamment, suivie de sa domestique Natalia.
Acte 3
Le salon dans la maison de Milio à Paris, peu après. À son bureau, Milio envisage son retour imminent à Saint-Étienne, où il veut voir Zazà une dernière fois avant son départ pour l’Amérique avec sa famille. Il quitte la maison avec sa femme qui informe le valet, Marco, que Madame Dunoyer appellera bientôt. Zazà arrive au domicile et cherche des preuves attestant que Milio a une amante. Le valet lui demande si elle est Madame Dunoyer. Zazà feint cette identité et a, par conséquent, le droit d’entrer avec Natalia. Tandis qu’elle attend dans le salon le retour de Milio, Zazá voit une lettre adressée à Madame Dufresne et apprend ainsi que Milio n’a pas seulement une simple amante, mais une femme. Totò, la fille de Milio, entre dans le salon quelques instants après. Zazà est émue jusqu’aux larmes lorsque la belle enfant converse avec elle et chante un Ave Maria de Cherubini au piano. Madame Dufresne revient, embarrassée de trouver des étrangères chez elle ; Zazà affirme être entrée dans la maison par accident, prend tendrement congé de Totò et s’en va sans prononcer un mot au sujet de son idylle avec Milio.
Acte 4
L’appartement de Zazà à Saint-Étienne, peu après. Zazà s’est absentée de l’Alcazar et l’imprésario Courtois s’inquiète du déclin des recettes. Il interroge Anaide au sujet des sorties de Zazà. Zazà est, cela dit, vite désemparée ; sa domestique Natalia et Cascart ne tardent pas à s’épouvanter. Ce dernier essaye de réconforter Zazà mais lui rappelle aussi qu’elle doit renoncer à Milio parce qu’il se doit uniquement à sa famille. Ignorant que Zazà s’est rendue chez lui à Paris, Milio rentre à Saint-Étienne. Zazà l’embrasse et ils déjeunent ensemble, mais elle lui révèle, furieuse, qu’elle sait qu’il a une famille. Milio lui demande de ne pas lui reprocher son amour fou pour elle car il a risqué l’adultère. Zazà lui annonce quand même qu’elle s’est rendue chez lui et qu’elle a rencontré sa famille ; en outre, elle affirme faussement avoir parlé de son idylle à sa femme. Outré, Milio tombe le masque : il traite Zazà de traînée et n’est pris de remords que lorsqu’il apprend la vérité au sujet de l’interaction entre Zazà et sa femme. Consciente que Totò a besoin de son père, Zazà le raye de sa vie.

Press Reviews

Opera Rara has cut no corners in rehabilitating this unjustly neglected opera; the booklet includes the libretto, an English translation and photographs. Indeed, the lovingly realised recording deserves to free Leoncavallo from his ‘one-hit-wonder’ label. Zazà is a glowing masterpiece that will come into its own when it is staged (although this superb recording will do very nicely anyway).

Classical Source

In my view, the best opera recording this year was actually Opera Rara’s studio taping of Leoncavallo’s obscure tear jerker Zazà, present in its taut 1919 edition. The concert performance back in November was one of the best live experiences I’ve had, with a carnal, expressive, deeply felt portrayal by Ermonela Jaho as the vulnerable and deceived music theatre star. Thankfully, any fears that the studio sessions would be a numb, inert facsimile of the concert proved unfounded. Released finally in June, this is a terrific set of a score that pulls strings mercilessly and with great panache. I do hope this is start of more Leoncavallo from Opera Rara: they bring a polish that companies like Bongiovanni can’t deliver in their sporadic surveys of forgotten verismo pieces...


Rarely heard in recent decades, Zaza was ripe for reassessment, and Opera Rara does it justice... The BBC Symphony Orchestra transforms itself into a verismo ensemble under Benini, and everyone is served by natural recorded sound... This is another gratifying success for Opera Rara.

Opera News

This new Zazà boxset release by Opera Rara proves why it still makes sense to create good old-fashioned studio recordings – a thing that today, at least in the world of opera, seems to have gone a bit out of fashion. Obviously, for this to work, the recording needs to be entrusted in the hands of trust-worthy soloists and production team. The “studio” can’t only be a place of recording but needs to be first of all a space in which the interpreters – free from the emotions and inevitable contingencies of a live performance - are able to curate every detail and deepen the reading of their characters, bringing to life music that will be remembered and is destined to make a mark in the history of the interpretations
of the opera. These ingredients are luckily present in this new Zazà.


Either way, as this superb new studio recording from Opera Rara reveals, the modern world has sorely misjudged Zazà... Opera Rara’s cast is near faultless. Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, an impressive Covent Garden Violetta and Suor Angelica, is magnificent in the title role. Her diction and characterisation through musical phrasing and text is matched by radiant tone, its creaminess reminiscent of the young Gheorghiu... Stunningly produced by Michael Haas, the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Maurizio Benini create a recording to rival the golden opera sets of yesteryear.

**Critics’ Choice 2016**


Another exceptional Opera Rara issue! In parallel with its recent Donizetti grand opéra publications, this new Zazà supplies the catalogue with a substantial rediscovery. The set, full of at times entirely unexpected revelation, is likewise characterized by thoughtful preparation, imaginative casting and authoritative orchestral and choral execution under a conductor both widely experienced and specifically expert, in this case Maurizio Benini...

**Disc of the Month**


On a strictly musical level, never has Zazà been so seductively realised

Opéra magazine

I’m all for it, though, and this lavish new recording of Zazà is very welcome, exhibiting all the usual hallmarks of care and attention we’ve come to expect from the label... It’s an idiom, however, that suits Ermonela Jaho extremely well, playing to the Albanian soprano’s remarkable dramatic strengths... Maurizio Benini conducts with an easy feel for the score’s shifting moods, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra play with real charm and affection. Fascinating, and recommended: it’s difficult to imagine a better case every being made for this delightful, touching piece on disc.


A favourite of the composer’s, Zazà enjoyed early success among verismo lovers who relished a rich vibrant score capturing the onstage and backstage highs and lows of the French music hall scene Leoncavallo knew so well. As she previously showed in La traviata (Verona) and Suor Angelica (Royal Opera), Jaho is a fresh, engaging artist who absolutely owns the title role: we need to hear more from her. As the two contrasted men in her life, Gaertner and Massi are close to ideal and Benini is hugely impressive in what is clearly a labour of love.

Classical Music

In this recording of the composer’s revised 1919 version of the accomplished score, conductor Maurizio Benini brings a light touch to his micro-management of BBC forces. Ermonela Jaho offers full emotional commitment, seizing the title role’s considerable opportunities. She’s finely partnered by Riccardo Massi as the duplicitous Milio, with Stephen Gartner focused as her world-wise stage-partner Cascart – who gets two of the opera’s best arias...

BBC Music Magazine

Painted in shimmering, soaring tones, Ms Jaho’s impassioned Zazà has an air of vulnerability that evokes memories of the great Pilar Lorengar. Small wonder she took London’s opera-going public by storm. Maurizio Benini – Opera Rara’s Associate Conductor – leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Jaho’s recording debut for Opera Rara. The soprano, who was recently announced as winner of the Readers’ Award at the 2016 International Opera Awards, is supported by a sterling cast including Riccardo Massi as her lover Milio; Stephen Gaertner as her onstage partner and former lover Cascart; and rich-toned mezzo soprano Patricia Bardon as her mother Anaide. This revival of Zazà is based on Leoncavallo’s own streamlined revision of his score, made shortly before his death. Do not hesitate to purchase this superbly recorded and finely packaged addition to Opera Rara’s unique catalogue.

The Mercury

After winning the 2016 International Opera Award with Donizetti’s Les Martyrs followed by releases of Gounod’s La Colombe and Donizetti’s Le Duc d'Albe Opera Rara has moved away from its specialisation but clearly not from its comfort zone with this marvellous recording of Zazà... Opera Rara has made an inspired choice with Zazà which I hope will lead to a number of fully staged revivals.

MusicWeb International

What Zazà needs is star treatment, and that is what the opera receives in spades from Opera Rara in this expertly-prepared studio performance, recorded in advance of a critically-acclaimed concert outing at the Barbican... In short, hold the salt: all of the ingredients needed to savor Opera Rara’s Zazà are present in this performance in precisely the right proportions.


A good month for lovers of verismo, Opera Rara has exhumed a delicious rarity, Leoncavallo’s Zazà from 1900, which enjoyed initial success before fading from view... Maurizio Benini’s conducting reflects this, alternating high drama with delicacy. Ermonela Jaho sings Zazà, a hugely demanding role, and she surmounts every challenge... In fact, I can’t think of another soprano today who suffers with such intensity... After this recording was made, Zazà was given in concert to reviews generally praising the performance and loving the music as a ‘guilty pleasure’. Well, critics get over yourselves and give credit where it’s due – verismo might not be fashionable but it packs a punch, and Zazà is rather wonderful.

Opera Now

In the concert last autumn, after which this studio recording was made, Ermonela Jaho gave a dazzling performance as Zazà, an initially flighty music hall singer... On disc Jaho is just as good, and Zazà’s character comes through vividly. A strong supporting cast includes Riccardo Massi as the dastardly tenor lover, Stephen Gaertner as the dependable ex and Patricia Bardon as the boozy mother. Maurizio Benini’s pacy conducting makes the BBCSO sound stylish and sumptuous.

The Guardian

But this is Ermonela Jaho's show, with all the other supporting players allowing her to shine and capture hearts. This is exactly as it should be, and Opera Rara are to be congratulated on finding someone just right for this central role. Leoncavallo's Zazà isn't quite a masterpiece, but it deserves a place in the repertoire just as much as Cilea's Adriana Lecourvreur. On this disc Opera Rara are to be commended for giving the work every chance, and producing a set with a great deal of style. I do hope that it persuades someone to stage the work in the UK.

Planet Hugill

With Leoncavallo’s Zazà, Opera Rara makes an admirable addition to its catalog of Romantic stage works that have fallen into obscurity. .. Thanks to the consummate artistry of Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho as Zazà and the authentic performance of the BBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Maurizio Benini, the album (available June 10 on the Opera Rara label) does not drag for a moment.

Classical Voice North America

Ermonela Jaho throws heart and soul into her singing as tender Zazà. The other singers, the BBCSO under Maurizio Benini, recording and presentation are all first-rate... Do not even try to resist.

Financial Times

Another verismo story of doomed love, it’s a perfect vehicle for Ermonela Jaho, the Royal Opera’s unforgettable Suor Angelica, as the singer who sets her sights on a rich businessman, not realising he has a family. With her impassioned lyricism tempered by a hint of steel, she brings Zazà as vividly to life as she did Puccini’s tragic nun. Riccardo Massi’s Milio (the lover) is sung lustily and stylishly, but the finest of the other singers is the American baritone Stephen Gaertner, as Zaza’s ex and singing partner, Cascart. This is new territory for Opera Rara, vividly and idiomatically conducted by Benini, with committed BBC forces.

**The Sunday Times Recordings of the Year**

The Sunday Times

Awards & Accolades

  • Opera category nomination for 2017 International Classical Music Awards
  • CD (Complete Opera) category nomination for 2017 International Opera Awards