Rossini: La Cenerentola

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: La Cenerentola
PERFORMER: Jennifer Larmore, Raúl Giménez, Gino Quilico, Alessandro Corbelli, Alastair Miles; Chorus &Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Carlo Rizzi
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-94553-2 DDD
From the very opening, Rizzi draws us into the colour and wittiness of Rossini’s brilliant score. The balance and precision of the orchestral writing are delightfully captured throughout. Special mention must go to the relatively unsung hero, chorus master Terry Edwards, as this must be one of the most stylish and disciplined choruses to deliver Rossini’s music on record. Corbelli’s vigorous sound as Magnifico enhances his major recitative exchanges and his excellent, story-telling delivery of both his arias is impressive. Miles’s Alidoro aria reveals a flexible and assured coloratura facility; and Quilico’s Dandini, in his deliberately over-characterised cavatina and his later duet with Magnifico, shows his vocal versatility. Giménez has a bright, engaging tenor sound as Ramiro. He caresses Rossini’s vocal lines and never sounds over-extended in the higher reaches of this role. The ensemble work, so crucial to the impetus and impact of the texture of Rossini’s score, is well-paced and energetically articulated, with the Act I finale and Act II sextet particularly feisty. Larmore’s mezzo, with its unique, syrupy richness and warmth, brings a haunting poignancy to Cinderella’s music and she has the technique to flourish in the fearsome coloratura passages, but in the unavoidable comparison with Cecilia Bartoli’s scintillating performance on Decca (1993), Larmore just loses the battle by a hair’s breadth. However, the overall standard of vocal performance on this Teldec recording might mean that it ultimately wins the war. Elise McDougall