Rossini: Il Turco in Italia

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COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Il Turco in Italia
PERFORMER: Natale De Carolis, Myrtò Papatanasiu, Massimiliano Gagliardo, Amedeo Moretti; Teatro Marrucino di Chieti Chorus & Orchestra/Marzio Conti
CATALOGUE NO: 8.660183-84
Il Turco in Italia ought to be as fresh as a new coat of paint. And the company that came together for a live theatre recording, judging by several heavy stage bumps on the night, have youth on their side. Indeed the only veteran of more than 20 years service amongst them is Natale De Carolis and it shows. Here is a Selim whose dark grained bass marks him out from the others, a Turk amongst Italians.

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Certainly De Carolis could teach the rest of the cast a thing or two about characterisation. Massimiliano Gagliardo as the almost cuckolded Don Geronio is simply a silly billy – there ought to be real pain there when his wife Donna Fiorella takes a fancy to the Turk. As Fiorella the young Greek soprano Myrtò Papatanasiu is no Callas or Bartoli, but it’s a useful joined up voice. There are elegant if modest decorations, exact diction and she spins a fine legato in the slow central section of ‘Per piacere alla signora’, her Act I duet with Don Geronio.

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What’s lacking here and elsewhere is real fizz. This is a cast of singers, you feel, who never seem to quite forget that they are ‘singing’ Rossini when they ought to be having a good time on the stage. So Bartoli partnered by Chailly, and Callas with Gavazzeni (albeit in mono, on EMI) are still the first and second choices. Nevertheless the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro Marrucino di Chieti (where do Naxos find their artistes?) are in party mood here, egged on by their conductor Marzio Conti. That brief horn solo in the overture smells just like new paint, or rather as if the ink were hardly dry on Rossini’s score. Christopher Cook