Rossini: Il turco in Italia

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Arthaus
WORKS: Il turco in Italia
PERFORMER: Cecilia Bartoli, Ruggero Raimondi, Paolo Rumetz, Reinaldo Macias, Oliver Widmer, Judith Schmid, Valery Tsarev, Zurich Opera Chorus & Orchestra, Franz Welser Most
Fortunately Cecilia Bartoli hasn’t entirely forsaken Rossini for adventures into Vivaldi and Salieri, for hers is the kind of middle-centred voice the great musical conjuror especially esteemed. Bartoli finds pathos as well as broad comedy in Fiorella, the wife with the roving eye in Il turco, and character and voice are magnificently matched. So there’s heartbreak and a perfectly judged legato in ‘Squallida veste, e bruna’ when she thinks that she has been turned out of matrimonial hearth and home. And there’s always enough vocal fireworks to delight any Italian commune at Ferragosto!


Cesare Lievi and Daniela Schiavone’s production – clownish costumes and comic strip furniture – may weary the eye, but turning Rossini and Romani’s poet in search of a libretto into the rarely off-stage producer of the show is imaginative and practical. And it’s a stroke of near genius to have the prompter on stage as his alter ego wagging an exasperated finger when the principal characters stray from the score.


Ruggero Raimondi’s Selim is an almost innocent seducer – not a trace of the most saturnine Don Giovanni of his generation here. For once Don Geronio is a young cuckold, not a doddering old fool who deserves Fiorilla’s serial infidelities: Paolo Rumetz finds pity as well as fury in the part. And while Judith Schmid’s Zaida may get her man and Reinaldo Macias’s Don Narciso has the last laugh, neither quite lives up to their role vocally. Franz Welser-Möst keeps this wonderful score fizzing along and there’s fine playing from the strings and the principal horn and oboe. Christopher Cook