Rossini: Le siège de Corinthe
In Naples in 1820 Rossini produced Maometto II, an opera seria that dealt with the Turkish conqueror Mehmed II’s siege of Negroponte in 1470. This innovative score met with little success, and in 1826 the composer – by then establishing himself in the French capital – made a substantial reworking of the piece in French as Le siège de Corinthe.
Though Rossini commentators tend to prefer the tauter original, the composer’s grand opéra expansion of his original, incorporating a change of location and some of the characters’ names, went on to achieve a respectable career in Paris and elsewhere, often in an Italian translation as L’assedio di Corinto. But it’s Le siège that the Rossini in Wildbad Festival revived in 2010 and that we hear on this live recording, conducted with more drive than drama by Jean-Luc Tingaud, though his orchestra delivers plenty of energy and attack from the martial overture onwards.
Rossini’s scores demand high-powered vocalism, and in this respect the performance maintains impressive standards. Majella Cullagh’s Pamyra meets all coloratura challenges with assurance and is firm and expressive throughout. As her father Cléomène, governor of Corinth, Marc Sala makes a determined opponent to Pamyra’s enemy lover Mahomet, whom she
has met in disguise and whose political ruthlessness and personal tenderness both find a place in Lorenzo Regazzo’s agile, weighty singing, while Michael Spyres cuts a dash as Néoclès, the young Greek warrior Pamyra’s father wants her to marry. The sound offers grand perspectives but is a little rough around the edges.