Although this Rossini two-acter, premièred in May 1813 in Venice was composed when the Maestro was only 21 years old, it has remained in the repertoire almost uninterruptedly ever since. This is no doubt due to the fresh and youthful music it contains, but as with all operas of the 'bel canto' period a sub-standard cast can ruin the whole feast.
This studio recording made in Dresden in February 1978 has a formidable team of singers, ideal in both singing and acting and being all of Italian stock, thus with perfect diction as well. The cream of the crop are definitely Lucia Valentini-Terrani (Isabella) and Sesto Bruscantini (Mustafa'). Their singing is admirably controlled, wonderfully phrased and delicately balanced, and in the ensemble pieces, they never fail to be the protagonists.
Ugo Benelli as the lovesick Lindoro gives an unforgettable interpretation of lyrical purity. He sings with passion and agility, but is always in command of the smooth-sounding high register. Enzo Dara's 'Taddeo' is witty, yet humane. It is, I dare say, slightly roguish as well. Dara's affinity with his character inspires him to a brightly confident rendition full of assertive virtuosity.
The minor roles, sung by Norma Palacios-Rossi, Gigliola Caputi and Alfredo Mariotti are all exquisitely and professionally done. Conductor and orchestra deliver a stylish, highly competent performance full of sparkling moments that serve as admirable support to the soloists. The remastering is also really excellent on all counts and sums up a fine project that should serve as a treat for all lovers of Rossiniana and opera in general.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech