Adelaide di Borgogna

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Opera Rara UK
PERFORMER: Majella Cullaghh, Jennifer Larmore, Mirco Palazzi, Bruce Ford;Scottish CO/Giuliano Carella

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Opera Rara’s exploration of the lesser-known works of Rossini has alighted here on a piece even Rossini enthusiasts, over the years, have been lukewarm about.

Adelaide, first staged in 1817 in the theatre in Rome that had hosted the premiere of The Barber of Seville a year before, dates from a period when the composer was pressed for time.

For instance, he recycled the overture from Il cambiale di matrimonio, and seems to have farmed out the secco recitatives and a couple of arias. Even what is certainly by Rossini is patchy, but the best shows the ambition and developing technical skills of the composer rising to full strength.

Giovanni Schmidt’s libretto is based on the tenth-century historical figure of Adelheid, widow of the Burgundian king Lothair, whose realm extended into Italy. Following his death she was chased round the country by Berengario, who wanted her to marry his son Adalberto, until rescued by the German king Otto, in time for a happy ending.

This is a live recording from the 2005 Edinburgh Festival, in reasonable sound, and while all the participants could probably have tidied up a few notes in the studio all do themselves credit.

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Majella Cullagh offers a voice of jewel-like beauty in the title-role, with Jennifer Larmore making light of coloratura difficulties as Ottone. Bruce Ford is firm and clear as Adalberto, with Mirco Palazzi sounding rather gentlemanly as the villain Berengario. Giuliano Carella conducts with spirit.