Rossini: Bianca e Falliero

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Dynamic
ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Bianca e Falliero
PERFORMER: María Bayo, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli, Carlo Lepore, Ornella Bonomelli, Dario Benini, Jirí Prudic, Karel Pajer, Stefan Cifolelli; Prague Chamber Choir; Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia/Renato Palumbo; dir. Jean-Louis Martinoty (Pesaro, 2005)
CATALOGUE NO: 33501 (NTSC system; 5.1 surround; 16:19 picture)
It was at Pesaro’s Rossini Opera

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Festival in 1986 that Bianca e Falliero

received its first production in

modern times, a performance with

a fine cast (but some cuts) that was

recorded. Opera Rara followed it up

with a complete recording in 2000,

so Dynamic’s new release, made in

Pesaro in 2005, brings the tally to

three. Not bad for a work that until

relatively recently was unknown,

but such is the gathering momentum

of the Rossini revival.

Bianca e Falliero deserves this

attention, without being one of the

composer’s most interesting works.

It is a mature score, written in 1819

for Milan, but in keeping with the

unadventurous Milanese taste its

form is on the conservative side. Set

in 17th-century Renaissance Venice,

it tells of how the marital ambitions

of Bianca and Falliero are thwarted

by Bianca’s father, Contareno, who

for political reasons has offered his

daughter’s hand to Capellio. Only a

last-minute reversal of fortune leads

to the lovers’ union.

Venice is evoked in Jean-Louis

Martinoty’s garish yet fundamentally

staid production, with a giant Lion

of St Mark looming over everything.

But the stock designs come from

a different planet to Tintoretto.

Under Renato Palumbo’s solid

baton, the principals are fine if

not truly compelling Rossinians.

Daniela Barcellona is taxed by the

demanding part of Falliero, yet still

well matched to the impassioned

Bianca of María Bayo. Francesco

Meli (Contareno) and Carlo Lepore

(Capellio) are both strong in the

context of a performance that was

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not in desperate need of preservation. John Allison