LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
PERFORMER: Vesselina Kasarova, Eva Mei, Ramón Vargas, Harry Peeters, Melinda Paulsen; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra/Roberto Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68349 2
The renaissance of Rossini’s serious operas continues apace, thanks mainly to the annual festival in the composer’s birthplace, Pesaro. Tancredi has had a number of productions, there and elsewhere, in recent years, and deservedly so, for it is Rossini’s earliest great opera seria, a work which, given singers able to cope with its demands on their virtuosity, can hold the stage today as effectively as when it was first performed in 1813. The action of its complicated plot takes place in Syracuse in 1005AD. The music is fresh and vigorous throughout, and Rossini never wrote a more delectable tune than the contralto hero’s ‘Di tanti palpiti’ (which Wagner parodied in the Tailors’ Song in Die Meistersinger).
Vesselina Kasarova brings a rich chest register, firm top notes, great flexibility and an impeccable sense of style to the role of the warrior Tancredi, Eva Mei’s supple soprano has no difficulty with the music of the much put-upon heroine Amenaide, and Ramòn Vargas in the tenor role of her father, Argirio, is more than adequate. Roberto Abbado conducts an authoritative account of the score, which here includes the additional music Rossini composed for the opera’s second staging in Ferrara, only weeks after its Venice premiere, when the libretto was altered to accord more closely to the tragedy by Voltaire on which it was based. Charles Osborne