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Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il Signor Bruschino or Il Figlio per azzardo. Farsa giocosa in One Act (1813)
Florville, Sofia's beloved, Alessandro Codeluppi (ten); Gaudenzio, Sofia's tutor, Maurizio Leoni (bar); Sofia, Elena Rossi (sop); Signer Bruschino, Dario Giorgelè (bass); Filiberto, inn-keeper, Antonio Marani, (bar) Marianna, a maid, Clara Giangaspero (mez); Bruschino Figlio, Signor Bruschino son, Massimiliano Barbolini (ten)
I Virtuosi Italiani/Claudio Desderi
Recorded in the Auditorium Pandurera, Cento(Ferrara) Italy, on 4th May 2002
NAXOS OPERA CLASSICS 8.660128 [79.43]

Various reasons have been suggested for the failure of Il Signor Bruschino at its premiere at the Teatro San Moisè in Venice in January 1813. It was Rossini’s ninth opera. In the sixteen months between L’equivoco stravagante to Bruschino, he had composed seven operas. With this pressure of commitment he often used individual pieces in more than one opera, a normal practice in that period. With no copyright legislation Rossini’s earnings were limited to performances in which he participated. Payments to the composer often did not match those of the prima donna! Thus Rossini plunged into one opera after another. Within six weeks of the premiere of Bruschino he was scheduled to present Tancredi at La Fenice, the most prestigious Venetian theatre. Did his audience resent his desertion of the San Moisè. After all that theatre had premiered four of his one act farce written between 1810 and 1813 and which Bruschino was the last? Or, as has been suggested, in this work he moved contemporary conventions a little too far for his audience. The tapping of music stands by violinist’s bows early in the overture, for example, might not have gone down well with conservative opera going Venetians who knew what they liked and liked what they knew best.

Whatever the reasons for its early failure, Bruschino is now widely recognised for its innovative musical qualities. As the Rossini revival has progressed the work has prospered on CD. The well-conducted Pavane issue of 1993 was quickly overtaken by the star-studded full price version on DG under the unidiomatic baton of Ion Marin. In 2000, Arte Nova issued a vibrantly conducted live performance from the Tiroler Festpiel. That issue, like this studio recording, is at super budget price with an Italian-only libretto. There is a lot of spoken dialogue in the work and the all-Italian cast on this Naxos issue scores highly in this respect. So should the fact that it is a studio recording. No intrusive applause that I found disturbing in Naxos’s live recording of Rossini’s sixth opera La pietra del paragone taped at the Bad Wildbad Festival in 2001. Common with that recording is the tenor Alessandro Codeluppi as Florville. His extremely promising Rossini tenor singing and characterisation is even more fully realised here. His is a full-toned flexible instrument with the required metal within it (tr. 2). Regrettably, Elena Rossi as Sofia does not match his qualities. She has not the capacity for the florid passages being neither agile nor true in coloratura or steady in legato. The Bruschino of Dario Giorgelè is adequate if undistinguished whilst the Gaudenzio of Maurizio Leoniis not always ideally steady.

The Bruschino on the DG issue is Claudio Desderi, the conductor here. To my knowledge Desderi’s conducting career goes back to 1992. Given that experience, allied to his renowned singing of the character parts in Rossini operas in the major opera houses of the world, and under the most renowned conductors, I am surprised he doesn’t let his hair down more here. His is a careful rather than the vibrant idiomatic interpretation I would have expected. Nor does their backward placing in relation to the voices help orchestral impact. The accompanying leaflet has a brief note on Rossini’s life, a track-related synopsis, artist profiles and the libretto in Italian only. Whilst I am glad that Naxos has given this work the honour of a studio recording, it lacks the care in casting and recording of their distinguished Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Tancredi. I suggest that those who do not want the uniformly impressive singing of the full priced DG, weigh the merits of this studio recording against the Arte Nova issue. This last of Rossini’s one act farces is well worth hearing for its musical innovations and innate virtues.

Robert J Farr


see also review by Christopher Howell

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