PERFORMER: Renée Fleming, Gregory Kunde, Jeffrey Francis, Donald Kaasch, Sergey Zadvorny, Carlo Bosi, Iorio Zennaro, Bruce Fowler, Ildebrando ArcangeloOrchestra & Chorus of the Teatro Comunale, Bologna/Daniele Gatti
CATALOGUE NO: S3K 58968 DDD
Recorded live at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Armida is the third of Rossini’s nine serious operas written for Naples. Requiring six outstanding tenors (although some doubling is possible) and no less remarkable feats from a soprano, it is seldom heard. This recording uses the Rossini Foundation’s new critical edition.
Gatti offers a taut, exciting reading of this score and, under his direction, the Bologna orchestra provides an alert, stylish accompaniment, revelling in the ballet music. Even when they are just playing figuration, they are immensely alive and expressive.
Special mention must be made of the radiant Rossinian tenor sound of Donald Kaasch as Goffredo and the wonderful resonant bass of Sergey Zadvorny as Astarotte. In the two main roles Rossini could not have been better served. Kunde shows phenomenal vocal stamina and style as Rinaldo: his ringing high notes and fluid lines are magnificent. Fleming’s Armida is a creamy, dazzling performance. She produces a rich, warm sound across her impressive soprano range, which she employs with stunning flexibility in the fierce coloratura passages. Together they deliver the vocal highlight of this recording with their exquisite performance of the Act II duet ‘Dove son io’. Elise McDougall