LABELS: Hardy Classic Video
ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Elisabetta regina d’Inghilterra
PERFORMER: Lella Cuberli, Antonio Savastano, Daniela Dessì, Rockwell Blake; Turin Teatro Regio Chorus & Orchestra/Gabriele Ferro; dir. Gianfranco de Bosio (Teatro Regio, Turin, 1985)
CATALOGUE NO: HCD 4007 (distr. Codaex)
Rossini’s 1815 opera is removed here to the Napoleonic period, with handsome First Empire costumes and neo-classical sets, avoiding all trace of anything one might recognise as Elizabethan. Given that the plot describes – albeit in a highly fanciful manner – one of the best-known British monarchs falling out with one of her best-known boyfriends, this seems rather odd.
Indeed it doesn’t make sense, but it looks pleasant. Better to concentrate, perhaps, on the singing, which does have some authentic Rossinian values. As Good Queen Bess, Lella Cuberli is fluent and skilled in her negotiation of umpteen fast and furious notes, while Daniela Dessì is never less than assured and charming as her rival, Matilde. As Leicester, the man in the middle, Antonio Savastano offers a bright, clear tone, engagement with the text and some stylish singing, while Rossini specialist tenor Rockwell Blake is on excellent form as Norfolk and registers as a strong presence (like a rather more wicked version of the Prince Regent, in fact).
Overall, despite its visual perversity, this 1985 account from the Regio in Turin is capably conducted (by Gabriele Ferro) and vocally buoyant. Though the opera is a rarity, some of the music may be familiar to Rossini fans from other contexts (notably The Barber of Seville). The booklet note points this out, but there’s no other documentation, either in the booklet or on the DVD, to inform us further. George Hall