The recently restored Church of San Miguel in the heart of Buenos Aires, was the field in which we could hear two works of a value worthy of review. Monsignor Licinius Refice was a composer who awoke in his time the warmest praise from many of his contemporaries, and even the demanding Toscanini considered him one of the greatest creators of his time.

Paradoxically its dramatic quality generated quite a few troubles with the ecclesiastical authorities who saw his pieces too mundane even if they had religious themes, and this theme, on the other hand, limited his space of action when choosing librettos for his operas, which walked away from the large public. Beyond that, he enjoyed of a success and a recognition that, unfortunately, was overshadowing with the running of time.


The Argentina Capital received him there around 1934 when he conducted at Teatro Colón his opera «Cecilia» with a performance of the «Divine» Claudia Muzio, who had premiered the work in Rome. The tour was completed with a visit to Montevideo in which we have one of the few film testimonies of the author and the performer and that we can enjoy in the following link :


The House of the Opera of Buenos Aires  re-exhumed  «Cecilia» some years ago at the Teatro Avenida, with Adelaida Negri embodying the protagonist under the direction of Maestro Paganini, and already then we could saw that opinions that woke Refice at his time were fully informed. Therefore the programming of new titles of his authorship are an interesting proposal and so we could discover «The Samaritan» last year (of which this year was launched the first world recording, with the cast of this world premiere, in seal vallegiovanniedizioni of Italy) and now this Stabat Mater in American premiere.


Work of impact and a breath-taking beauty in many of its passages, this Stabat Mater is undoubtedly a work of great encouragement beyond that his score is prescribed for soprano, tenor, chorus and piano. Both the soloists and the choir must face a difficulty and a drama of the lyric stage pages and the piano has a rich presence in nuances and modulations that nothing made wonder to more extensive training. Precisely, thus, stands out the balance between asceticism and lyrical expansion.

Giovanni Panella is a genuine promise. We enjoy, also of his Missa Splendoris last year, and this year his Stabat Mater, in world premiere, it was measured with the one of Refice and it came out of the challenge successfully.

The composer managed a completely different approach from the one of his illustrious compatriot, pointing to a more concentrated and intimate reading of the Latin text, closer to the liturgical canon without losing anything personality and a sincere and rich inventiveness.


In coral as well as in the solo passages (exceptional «Amen», interesting «stabat mater», inspired «Quando corpus morietur» among others) Panella manages to convince and with good weapons.

Between both works was offered ”Neve non tocca”  of Domenico Bartolucci for soprano and choir “a capella” played with very good taste by Marta Rossi.


The  soloists of this evening were soprano Adelaida Negri which showed secure, with a clear line of singing, a wide register and which gave her authority and quality in passages so required as that Refice reserve to the soprano; the mezzo-soprano Bibiana Fischy showed her best in her interventions demonstrating a pleasant timbre and a voice that runs without difficulty; tenor David Basualdo who sang with good taste his passages; Alejandro Schijman the bass baritone owner of a voice that safe responded to the needs of its parts, caused us a pleasant impression as its maturation was proved; and tenor Pablo Selci who sang with all his might such an exposed part as that Refice reserves you for his rope. If his record doesn’t seem to be ideal for the part, his commitment and delivery amply compensates any qualms. A separate chapter deserves the “Ensamble Vocal Cámara XXI”, directed by Miguel Angel Pesce, that showed their qualities in works where the choral interventions are in such a first-order. A seamless tuning, good filling and a safety in the reading made their intervention warmly rewarded by the public. In the piano gave a very interesting presentation Maestro. Giovanni Valle, who responded to the details who have the scores of both authors rich in subtleties that were expressed and highlighted in its interpretation. Mtro Giovanni Panella conducted the three works with equal adequacy, managing to transmit the wealth of the scores much more than interesting and that the public, that broke the doubly centenary Temple, applauded with fervour.

Prof. Christian Lauria