Rossini: Il turco in Italia

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Il turco in Italia
PERFORMER: Cecilia Bartoli, Michele Pertusi, Alessandro Corbelli, Ramón Vargas; La Scala Chorus & Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 458 924-2
Though it failed to please the Milanese public in 1814, this is one of Rossini’s most fascinating comedies, with a highly artificial, quasi-Pirandellian libretto by Felice Romani, and much delightful music, some of which – two arias, the Act II finale and all the unaccompanied recitative – was written for a too busy Rossini by another composer.

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The opera’s finest numbers, however, are vintage Rossini, and they are performed impeccably by the cast of this complete recording. Cecilia Bartoli brings not only a beautiful voice but a lively sense of character to the role of the flirtatious Fiorilla, and Michele Pertusi is equally effective as Selim, the Turkish visitor to Naples who is smitten by her. In the enchanting trio in Act I in which the poet Prosdocimo plans the comedy he is attempting to write, to the annoyance of two of its characters, all three singers – Roberto de Candia, Ramón Vargas and Alessandro Corbelli – reveal themselves to be absolute masters of Rossinian style.

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Though marginally less enjoyable than Act I, Act II contains a superb comic duet for Selim and Geronio, Fiorilla’s long-suffering husband, as well as a quintet which is masterly in its dramatic complexity and musical audacity. Riccardo Chailly conducts this effervescent score with both charm and authority. Charles Osborne