La scala di seta
Claudia Urru, Meagan Sill, Michele Angelini, Remy Burnens, Emmanuel Franco; Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra/José Miguel Pérez-Sierra
Naxos 8.660512-13 88:25 mins
You marvel at the self-assurance of the 20-year-old Rossini. The overture to La scala di seta, composed for Venice in 1812, positively fizzes us into an intrigue ultimately derived from Hogarth’s sequence Marriage A-la-Mode.
A pair of lovers – two of whom, Dorvil and Giulia, are secretly married – and a suitor, Blansac, who transfers his romantic allegiance to cousin Lucilla, all hope to escape the eagle eye of the girls’ tutor Dormont with the help of a silken rope ladder. And all might have been well had not a dunderhead servant, Germano, lumbered into the plot and got the wrong end of the ladder, so to speak.
There’s elegant singing here from a youthful cast – notably the tenor Michele Angelini as Dorvil sounding like a young Bruce Ford. The women demonstrate a satisfying degree of vocal agility, with Claudia Urru’s Giulia allowing real feelings to break into her aria ‘Il mio ben sospiro e chiamo’. Emmanuel Franco’s Germano begins well, but he lacks a gift for vocal comedy – more bluff than buffo. He might have been funnier if José Miguel Pérez-Sierra had kept the Krakow Philharmonic dancing on their toes, although the Finale is a tour de farce. Less pleasing is the fortepiano continuo which crashes about like a bull in a music shop.