PERFORMER: Ewa Podles, Sumi Jo, Stanford Olsen, Pietro Spagnoli, Anna Maria di Micco, Lucretia Lendi; Capella Brugensis, Collegium Instrumentale Brugense/Alberto Zedda
CATALOGUE NO: 8.660037/8 DDD
Rossini was only twenty when he composed Tancredi, his first great opera seria, a work which, though very favourably received when it was new, disappeared from view for more than fifty years, like so much of the bel canto repertoire, only to re-emerge in the second half of this century. Based on a play by Voltaire set in 11th-century Sicily, the opera tells the story of Tancredi, who returns from exile in time to prevent the marriage of his beloved Amenaide to the villainous Orbazzano, who then falsely accuses the lady of treason. All ends happily.
The role of Tancredi, written for contralto, is given some glorious music to sing, including a cabaletta, ‘Di tanti palpiti’, which became such a favourite with the opera’s first audiences that it was whistled in the alleys of Venice for years. Ewa Podles, though not quite the equal of Marilyn Horne on Sony, brings an attractively warm and agile voice to the role.
Sumi Jo’s bright tonal quality and ease in coloratura equip her ideally for the role of Amenaide, and Stanford Olsen makes the most of his opportunities for vocal display as her father. Pietro Spagnoli is fine as Orbazzano, the smaller roles are capably sung, and the Rossini specialist Alberto Zedda conducts stylishly and excitingly. Charles Osborne