Rossini: La donna del lago

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

LABELS: Philips
WORKS: La donna del lago
PERFORMER: Rockwell Blake, Giorgio Surjan, Chris Merritt, June Anderson, Martine DupuyChorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Riccardo Muti
Rossini wrote La donna del lago – based on Sir Walter Scott’s poem – in 1819, after Otello and around the same time as Ermione, but much of the music is Rossini at his most banal and repetitive. There are several exceptions of course: the consistently wonderful orchestration and passages such as Ellen’s opening and closing arias, Malcolm’s cavatina in Act I, the subsequent duel with Ellen and Giacomo’s cavatina in Act II. Anderson’s Ellen often broadens out the sound on her upper notes and tends to use a disconcerting level of vibrato. Her final ‘Tanti affetti’ is exquisite, however. Surjan (Douglas) and Merritt (Rodrigo) have good moments but Merritt does sound horrendously strained much of the time. Blake (Giacomo) manages to bring a full-throated, splendid ring to ‘Oh fiamma soave’ with attempts at shading and shaping the fiendish lines of fioritura. The best performance on this set is from Martine Dupuy as Malcolm. It’s a creamy sound but decisive enough to deliver the coloratura passages with fire and vigour. The orchestra, off-stage bands and chorus are a ragged crew under Muti and there are two jarring edits in the recording. Elise McDougall