Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)
L’Italiana in Algeri - complete - (1816)
Gunther von Kannen (bass) Mustafa
Nuccia Focile (soprano) Elvira
Susan McLean ((mezzo soprano) Zulima
Rudolph A. Hartmann (bass) Ali
Robert Gambill (tenor) Lindoro
Doris Soffel (contralto) Isabella
Enric Serra (bass) Taddeo
Bulgarian Male Chorus, Stuttgart
Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart conducted by Ralf Weikert
Stage Direction by Michael Hampe, Video Direction by Claus Viller
recorded at the 1987 Schwetzingen Festival (DVD).
ARTHAUS 100 120 [148 minutes]


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

This performance has been in the catalogue for a while and is now released in tandem with Il Barbieri di Siviglia from the same sources. Arthaus is now issuing this pair of recordings as a two DVD box at a reduced price. Sometimes offers such as these are very much curate’s eggs, but this pair is excellent. If you wish to have both these operas on DVD, don’t hesitate – they are well worth having.

Set in a very small theatre, there is a very intimate feel to the performance and the sets, being more expansive than those required for Il Barbiere, seem a little more cramped, but this is never a problem. The performance sparkles and sizzles so that the cramped sets do not seem a hardship. In fact, I suspect that they were designed extremely well to fit in the restricted space. The only time I felt that the action was at least compromised was when the ship taking our heroine back to Italy, ran out of space when moving from left to right and out of sight, except it didn’t – it ran out of harbour, leaving part of the stern stationary as the curtain came down.

Our ethnic cast, suitably tanned out of a bottle, or sun bed – take your pick, performs brilliantly as a team, in fact better than the cast a year later on the companion set for The Barber. The end of Act 1, one of Rossini’s best and well known patter songs is performed brilliantly, with all members of the cast making the most of the comedy, and brilliant music provided for them.

The orchestra, under a suitably tanned Ralf Weikert, play extremely well, but not with quite the life that it had the year before under Gabriele Ferro. I suppose this is one of the drawbacks of getting this pair of DVDs in a pack, Not only does one judge the performances against others, but also since they are both comic Rossini operas, there is a risk of comparing one with the other.

The plot, is not as good as the masterly adaptation of Beaumarchais’s comedy by Cesare Sterbini. L’Italiana in Algeri is about the wife of the bey, Elvira, who, fearing that her husband, Mustafa, no longer loves her, is persuaded by the eunuchs et al that she should accept her lot as it is the woman’s fate to be in this situation. Mustafa has decided that he wishes to have an Itailan woman, and as luck would have it, as always happens in operas, a ship from Italy is miraculously wrecked on the coast. Out of this ship is rescued Isabella who is immediately seen to be a prospective candidate. Mustafa, in order to have his Italian woman must get rid of his wife, and therefore persuades Lindoro, a prisoner to flee to Venice with his wife. Lindoro has previously been sought by Isabella which is why she was on the ship. When they see each other you can imagine what happens to Mustafa’s plan.

After much to-ing and fro-ing, deceptions and plotting, the opera concludes in a riot, with the ship, flying the Italian flag, unable to leave the stage because of the constricted space. Great fun, beautifully sung, played recorded and filmed – excellent value with its companion.

John Phillips

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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