“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.