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Rossini,  Tancredi (Venezia Version): Soloists, Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Real de Madrid. Conductor: Ricardo Frizza. Teatro Real de Madrid, 8.12.2007 (JMI)

New Production from Teatro Real with Barcelona’s  Liceu, Seville’s Maestranza and Torino’s Teatro Regio.

Director: Yannis Kokkos
Sets and Costumes: Yannis Kokkos
Lighting: Guido Levi


Tancredi. Daniela Barcellona
Amenaide: Patrizia Ciofi
Argirio: Bruce Sledge
Orbazzano: Umberto Chiummo
Isaura: Marina Rodríguez-Cusí
Roggiero: Marisa Martins

When Teatro Real announced its decision to perform the two different versions Tancredi versions, I thought that the differences would not go much beyond presenting the two alternative endings, i.e. Ferrara and Venice.  Far from it. original version,  has  important musical changes to both music and text, which  made it much more interesting to attend  this performance.

Yannis Kokkos presented the two last scenes with the same sets used in the Ferrara version, although he introduced the chorus of Saracens, (very colourful by the way), and his  whole ” collection” of tin soldiers and puppets.  He also changed the the protagonist's costume into something  more appropriated for a happy ending.

Conductor Ricardo Frizza once again proved his great capacity for this repertoire, although it was evident that he was ill, which gives even more merit to his work. This was a very outstanding performance, shining particularly at the end of Act I, a really tricky piece for any conductor. The chorus again had some problems at the beginning, but their performance was generally much better than the previous day.

Daniela Barcellona was a very convincing Tancredi. Her voice has a freshness far beyond that of Ewa Podles: she  sang with exquisite taste, particularly in the second act and especially in her beautiful duets with Amenaide.

Patrizia Ciofi was an exceptional Amenaide. Her singing was glorious, but her prison scene and the following aria and cabaletta,  were truly the hits of the evening and would be very difficult to improve.   She is an exceptional artist who cannot help but become the constant  focus of interest,  even though her voice is not an exceptional instrument. To my mind, she is one of the most interesting  light-lyric sopranos  heard anywhere today.

Bruce Sledge was the new Argirio and showed an insufficient voice for the role. He is a tenorino but without the necessary upper range which means serious difficulties from high B and above. He had the enormous courage to sing the most difficult aria that Rossini wrote for Argirio, in this Venice version although the piece was a too heavy burden for him, as it is full of high Cs and even Ds. The probability is that this particular aria will continue to be buried, unless people can be found to face up to its formidable technical demands. Chris Merritt in his best  years could have brought  the house down with it and maybe Gregory Kunde on a good day could go for it successfully now.

When serious Rossini is offered under good conditions like this, triumphs  are  assured.  The theater was sold out again  and this time there were cheers for the singers after every aria. At the final bows, the performance proved a great success for Patrizia Ciofi, and there was also a very warm reception, including some cheers, for Daniela Barcellona and Maestro Frizza.

José M. Irurzun


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