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Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il Turco in Italia - Dramma buffo per musica in two Acts (1814) [2:36:56]
Marco Vinco (bass) – Selim; Alessandra Marianelli (soprano) – Fiorilla; Andrea Concetti (baritone) – Geronio; Filippo Adami (tenor) – Narciso; Bruno Taddia (baritone) – Prosdocimo; Elena Belfiore (mezzo) – Zaida; Daniele Zanfardino (tenor) – Albazar
Prague Chamber Choir; Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento/Antonello Allemandi
rec. live, Rossini Opera Festival, Teatro Rossini, Pesaro, August 2007
text and English translation included
DYNAMIC CDS566/1-2 [77:20+79:36] 
Experience Classicsonline

Il Turco in Italia” is by no means the pale copy in reverse of “L’Italiana in Algeri” that you might expect it to be. It has a character all its own, with fewer arias and more ensembles, and the wonderful plot device of having as a main character the poet Prosdocimo who is in search of a suitable plot for his own next comedy, and who comments upon and influences the action to that end. This element of detachment was one which clearly appealed to Rossini, who provides an amazing variety of music for the changing situations of the plot.

This recording derives from live performances at the Pesaro Rossini Opera Festival, with an audience plainly appreciating what it hears whilst apparently helpfully keeping that appreciation for the end of numbers. There are a few stage noises, but not enough to be annoying, and the new Ricordi critical edition by Margaret Bent is used. 

I have no doubt from what I hear and from the pictures in the booklet that this must have been an extremely enjoyable production in the theatre. As might be expected, a cast assembled for a festival devoted to the composer can be expected to have at least a good feeling for the idiom and an adequate technique. So it proves generally here, although there is some lack of individuality about most of the soloists. The Overture starts somewhat lackadaisically but by half-way through the performance has come into focus and has become very stylish indeed. My impression is that this seems to occur throughout the opera, both in individual numbers and more generally in the much greater spirit apparent in Act Two. I should stress that the earlier numbers and parts of numbers are never less than adequately performed, but each time I have listened I have the impression of the singers and players gradually warming to their task.

The booklet lacks any biographical information about the soloists or conductor but the photographs do suggest a generally young cast. I do not care greatly for the voice of Elena Belfiore, who sings Zaida, in music which responds better to less vibrato, and Filippo Adami as Nacisco sounds strained at times, but neither of these is a serious defect in relation to the performance as a whole. Alessandra Marianelli as Fiorella is appropriately the star of the performance, especially in her long aria near the end of the opera. The recording is generally clear, and the orchestra, after a somewhat listless start to the Overture, are alert, stylish and not so large as to overpower the music. 

These discs may lack the character of some earlier, more “starry”, recordings, but they do present a performance which is enjoyable and worthy of this delightful opera.

John Sheppard



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