Rossini: La Cenerentola

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Rossini Opera Festival
WORKS: La Cenerentola
PERFORMER: Sonia Ganassi, Juan Diego Flórez, Roberto de Candia, Bruno Praticò; Prague Chamber Chorus, Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra/Carlo Rizzi
CATALOGUE NO: 10033
There are several good reasons for acquiring this set. It was recorded at a live performance, sung by a mostly Italian-speaking cast at the Rossini Opera Festival in the composer’s own birthplace, Pesaro. It offers the most complete recording yet of Alberto Zedda’s critical edition, essentially restoring every note that was heard at the work’s 1817 premiere in Rome, including two numbers not even by Rossini. It is conducted with real verve and refinement by Carlo Rizzi, and excellently played by the Bologna theatre band (Chailly’s orchestra on his superb Decca recording with Bartoli). It is also the only complete Rossini recording by the outstanding young tenore di grazia of today, Juan Diego Flórez, whose mellifluous presence is a joy throughout.

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The down side, sadly, is the Cinders herself. To my ears, anyway, Sonia Ganassi’s voice is simply the wrong size and shape for the part: still heavy with puppy-fat, gauchely handled, ungainly – even desperate – in coloratura, it sounds in its boomy lower register like a foghorn with bad catarrh; lacking lightness and mobility, it invests even Angelina’s tender little hearth-song with all the portentousness of a prophecy by Erda.

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The rest of the cast are nothing special individually, but all are precise in both patter and ensemble. The recorded sound is nicely woody, but there’s a lot of intrusive stage noise, applause and orchestral retunings to put up with, as well as some vocal over-acting presumably prompted by invisible sight-gags. As a would-be definitive version, the set is also let down by sloppy listings of tracks and timings. Mark Pappenheim