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Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868)
Adelaide di Borgogna (1817)
Ottone, Emperor of Germany – Margarita Gritskova (mezzo-soprano)
Adelaide, widow of Lotario, King of Italy – Ekaterina Sadovnikova (soprano)
Berengario – Baurzhan Anderzhanov (bass-baritoen)
Eurice, Berengario’s wife – Miriam Zubieta (soprano)
Adelberto, Berengario’s son – Gheorghe Vlad (tenor)
Iroldo, former governor of Canossa – Yasushi Watanabe (tenor)
Ernesto, one of Ottone’s officers – Cornelius Lewenberg (baritone)
Camerata Bach Choir, Poznan, Virtuosi Brunensis/Luciano Acocella, Michele D’Elia (fortepiano)
rec. live, Trinkhalle, Bad Wildbad, Germany, 19, 23 and 25 July 2014
The Italian libretto may be accessed online
NAXOS 8.660401-02 [75:12 + 47:31]

1817 was an uncommonly busy year for Rossini. On 4 December 1816 his Otello was premiered in Napels and less than two months later La Cenerentola, on 25 January 1817, was seen in Rome. It was followed by La gazza ladra on 31 May in Milan, whereupon Napels saw Armida on 11 November and in Rome, on 27 December, Adelaide di Borgogna was presented at Teatro Argentina, the stage where Il barbiere di Siviglia flopped at the premiere less than two years earlier. Five big operas within little more than one year – an almost incomprehensible workload! Adelaide is the least known of them but musically it is hardly inferior to the others. There are several excellent arias and ensembles that require virtuoso singing, and that’s what they get on this live recording. The libretto, by Giovanni Schmidt who also was responsible for Armida, is based on an episode from medieval Italy. According to the history books it took place in Canossa in Reggio Emilia in 951, the year of Otto the Great’s (Ottone) first Italian campaign, but Schmidt’s Canosso is on Lake Garda and it takes place in 947.

Whether historically accurate or not the story goes as follows: Adelaide (of Burgundy) is beleaguered in Canossa by Berengario. He has murdered her husband. His son Adelberto wants to marry Adelaide but she turns him down. The governor of Canossa asks Ottone to interfere and save Adelaide, he arrives with his army and falls in love with her. When he leads her to the altar Berengario and Adelberto attack him but he escapes and eventually he defeats them and can marry her. Musical focus is very much on Adelaide, the brilliant soprano Ekaterina Sadovnikova, and Ottone, the excellent mezzo-soprano Margarita Gritskova. The latter has a great aria with cavatina (CD 1 tr. 7) and shortly afterwards sings a duet with Adelberto, the fine lyrical tenor Gheorghe Vlad. Later in the first act Adelaide and Ottone have a long duet (CD 1 tr. 18). Adelaide’s richly embellished cavatina in the first act (CD 1 tr. 16) is another highlight, and her duet with Adelberto (CD 2 tr. 3) with chorus is beautiful. Near the end of the opera (CD 2 tr. 9) she has her big scene and aria. The opening is virtuoso, followed by a slow beautiful section and a lively chorus and then she gets some more opportunities for fireworks coloratura. The finale proper with chorus, scena and Ottone’s aria is an extended scene and the aria is great, sung with phenomenal assurance. There is good singing also from bass-baritone Baurzhan Anderzhanov as Berengario, and soprano Miriam Zubieta as his wife Eurice.

The live recording is fully acceptable, choral and orchestral forces excellent and conductor Luciano Acocella has good feeling for Rossini’s idiom. The Italian libretto is available but listeners with limited knowledge of Italian need not feel too short-changed. The detailed synopsis with cue-points is more than enough to follow the proceedings, and those with no interest in the drama can just indulge in the singing, which is first class. Margarita Gritskova and Ekaterina Sadovnikova, both former students at the St Petersburg Conservatory are superb in every respect. Adelaide di Borgogna has been recorded at least three times before but this is still a valuable addition to the Rossini discography.

Göran Forsling



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