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Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868)
Il viaggio a Reims (1825)
Laura Giordano (soprano) – Corinna; Marianna Pizzolato (alto) – Marchesa Melibea; Sofia Mchedlishvili (soprano) – La contessa di Folleville; Alessandra Marianelli (soprano) – Madama Cortese; Bogdan Mihai (tenor) – Il Cavalier Belfiore; Maxim Mironov (tenor) – Il Conte di Libenskof; Mirco Palazzi (bass) – Lord Sidney; Bruno De Simone (bass) – Don Profondo; Bruno Praticò (bass) – Il Barone di Trombonok; Gezim Myshketa (bass) – Don Alvaro; Camerata Bach Choir, Poznan, Virtuosi Brunensis/Antonino Fogliani
rec. in concert, Königliches Kurtheater, Bad Wildbad, Germany, 8, 10, 12 July 2014
The Italian libretto may be accessed online
NAXOS 8.660382-84 [3 CDs: 54:51 + 48:07 + 53:51]

It was in Pesaro in 1984 that Claudio Abbado conducted the then newly unearthed music of Il viaggio a Reims. Rossini himself had withdrawn the work after four performances. A couple of years later he recycled some of the music for Le Comte Ory. The starry cast ensured that the recording, issued by Deutsche Grammophon, sold well. That and a later Sony set – also conducted by Abbado – as well as numerous performances have made Viaggio almost a repertoire work. I was lucky to see the Dario Fo production in Helsinki in 2003 and was well familiar with the work since I bought the DG recording when it was first issued. It is hard to believe that the new recording with mostly little known singers can challenge Abbado’s with ten international star singers at the height of their powers: Cecilia Gasdia, Lucia Valentini Terrani, Lella Cuberli, Katia Ricciarelli, Edoardo Gimenez, Francisco Araiza, Samuel Ramey, Ruggero Raimondi, Enzo Dara and Leo Nucci. They are joined by the likes of Raquel Pierotti, Ernesto Gavazzi and William Matteuzzi as comprimario singers. Those who already own the DG set will no doubt hesitate but there is a carrot. The booklet cover says: "First Recording of the Complete Opera".

I was following the new recording with the libretto from the DG set and noted several differences. Among them is a chorus, L’allegria è un sommo bene, at the opening of the finale. It is missing from the DG set for very obvious reasons: it hadn’t been discovered in 1984. Reto Müller’s liner-notes list a number of other differences that together present the work as Rossini had intended.

The recording is excellent with the chorus and orchestra fully up to their task and Antonio Fogliani leading an idiomatic and well-paced account. The soloists are not quite in the class of the Abbado line-up but several are very good. Marianna Pizzolato and Maxim Mironov as Marchesa Melibea and Il Conte di Libenskof are really classy singers and their duet near the end of the opera (CD 3 tr. 2-3) is a real high-spot. The other tenor, Bogdan Mihai as Il Cavalier Belfiore, is also excellent and both Bruno Praticò (Il Barone di Trombonok) and Bruno De Simone (Don Profondo) are expressive basses though not always so sonorous. This is, however, very much an ensemble opera and together these singers make this a very attractive evening for home-listening in the armchair.

The Abbado set will always have an honoured place in the collection but this newcomer is well worth the modest outlay.

Göran Forsling

Previous review: Robert Farr (Recording of the Month)



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