Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)
Il Turco in Italia (1814) [156.56]
L'Italiana in Algeri (1813) [143.30]
Il Cambiale di Matrimonio (1810) [78.10]
see end of review for soloist details
Prague Chamber Choir (Truco, Italiana)
Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento/Umberto Benedetto Michelangeli; Antonello Allemandi (Turco, Cambiale)
Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna/Donato Renzetti (Italiana)
rec. Teatro Rossini, Pesaro, August 2007 (Turco); BPA Palas, Pesaro August 2006 (Italiana) ; BPA Palas, Pesaro, August 2006 (Cambiale).
Originally released as CDS526/1-2 (Turco), 566/1-2 (Algeri) & 529 (Cambiale)
DYNAMIC CDS682 [5 CDs: 77.20 + 79.36 + 69.43 + 73.47 + 78.10]
Dynamic have packaged three of their live recordings from the Pesaro festival. These range from the rarity of Rossini's early La Cambiale di Matrimonio, to the well known genius of L'Italiana in Algeri and the slightly less familiar Il Turco in Italia.
I reviewed the recording of Il Turco in Italia when it first came out and it was fascinating listening to the discs again. The advantage that the set has is that all the soloists are singing in their native language. The result is fluent and the dialogue fairly rattles along. But you wish that more had been made of it. Similarly in the solo moments, the piece lacks a smile, lacks fascination. Alessandra Marianelli as Fiorilla is fluent and judging by the pictures, rather sexy on stage. But this doesn't come out on disc, her performance lacks the infinite variety of a Bartoli or a Callas.
Il Turco is one of Rossini's most subtle comedies. It is not the pure farce of Italiana,and works because of the humanity Rossini brings to the roles. Yet that quality is lacking here.
Filippo Adami as Narciso has a tendency to harden at the top of his range. He does not sound entirely comfortable with the tessitura and vocally he lacks allure. With Don Geronimo and Selim we have a slightly different problem. They both sound personable and creditable; in fact they sound too much alike. This is not a problem on stage, but certainly a difficulty on disc and Geronimo just doesn't sound enough like a put-upon husband.
Under Pavel Vanek, the Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento and the Prague Chamber Choir acquit themselves well.
L'Italiana in Algeri receives a pretty brilliant performance from Marianna Pizzolato as Isabella and Maxim Mironov as Lindoro. Apart from Mironov all the principals are Italian; they really rattle off the dialogue.
The performance has a brilliance and a ping which is lacking in Il Turco. Pizzolato's roulades are just dazzling and I was very taken with Mironov's Lindoro; his upper register has a lightness and beauty which is a necessity in the role. Even so, under pressure, a hint of steel creeps in.
As Selim, Marco Vinco is not quite the buffo delight; his voice has a youthfulness to it which means that his roulades are very creditable but they do not radiate orotund warmth. Bruno de Simone's Taddeo is a neat comic creation, nicely differentiated in vocal tones from Vinco.
It’s weakness is that it doesn't always sound like a comedy. Dario Fo's production came in for some critical complaints and this may have had some effect on the musical performance. There are many moments when stage noise makes the live nature of this recording apparent. More seriously, in the glorious large-scale ensembles the co-ordination of pit and singers is not what it could be.
Both of these recordings are creditable and listenable, L'Italiana in Algeri in particular. There are plenty of other individual recordings out there which would be preferable in that they display the full variety inherent in these operas; it’s a variety not present here or at least not in its full array.
The final set is the 2006 recording of Rossini's first opera, Il Cambiale di Matrimonio. This is a one act farse which has had few outings on disc. Rossi's libretto was based on a 5-act comedy which owed something to Goldoni. The plot concerned a merchant (Paolo Bordogna) who attempts to sell his daughter (Desiree Rancatore) to a Canadian business contact (Fabio Maria Capitanucci). She is of course in love with someone else (Samir Pirgu).
Il Cambiale’sabsence on disc is perhaps partly due to the extensive dialogue, here accompanied by a slightly distant and rather over-active harpsichord. Any recording needs to win the listener over via the brilliant ensembles. Rossini uses a lot of ensembles, duets and trios, with relatively few solos. Here the rather audible and evidently active stage production seems to have compromised the brilliance. In fact there are other elements which come over as heavy-handed.
The two baritone leads (Paolo Bordogna and Fabio Maria Capitanucci) are eminently capable but for my taste the performance is over-emphasized: full of funny voices and exaggeration.
Rancatore is an experienced Rossinian and navigates the roulades. Her substantial vibrato is inclined to be intrusive and her voice has a feeling of instability. I was also less than partial to the acuti which she throws in, certainly impressive but not always lovely.
Pirgu is an unassuming, pleasant voiced Milfort and the cast are admirably supported by Enrico Maria Marabelli and Maria Gortsevskaya as the servants Norton and Clarina
Where this set wins out is that it includes a complete libretto and translation, something that seems to have been lacking in other CDs of the opera. All three are impressively packaged, with libretto, translations and pictures. Those of Il Cambiale di Matrimonio show staging with some pretty scary wigs on display.
None of these operas is perfect but the live performances by substantially Italian casts are vivid and involving and certainly worth the low price of this set.  

Robert Hugill
Not perfect but lively and involving and certainly worth the low price. 

Soloist details
Il Turco:
Selim - Marco Vinco (baritone)
Fiorilla - Alessandra Marianelli (soprano)
Geronimo - Andrea Concetti (baritone)
Narciso - Filippo Adamo (tenor)
Prosdocimo - Burno Taddei (baritone)
Zaida - Elena Belfiore (mezzo)
Albazar - Daniele Zanfardino (baritone)
Isabella - Marianna Pizzolato (mezzo)
Mustafa - Marco Vinco (baritone)
Lindoro - Maxim Mironov (tenor)
Taddeo - Bruno de Simone (baritone)
Elvira - Barbara Bargnesi (soprano)
Zulma - Jose Maria Lo Monaco
Haly - Alex Esposito
Il Cambiale:
Tobia Mill - Paolo Bordogna (baritone)
Fanny - Desiree Rancatore (soprano)
Edoardo Milfort - Saimir Pirgu (tenor)
Slook - Fabio Maria Capitanucci (baritone)
Norton - Enrico Maria Marabelli (baritone)
Clarina - Marina Gortsevskaya (mezzo)