WORKS: Le nozze di Teti, e di Peleo; Il pianto d’Armonia sulla morte di Orfeo
PERFORMER: Elisabetta Scano (soprano), Cecilia Bartoli, Daniela Barcellona (mezzo-soprano), Juan Diego Flórez, Paul Austin Kelly, Luigi Petroni (tenor); La Scala PO & Chorus/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 466 328-2
Written for a wedding intended to unite the Neapolitan and French royal families in 1816, Le nozze di Teti, e di Peleo is a static little drama in which various gods descend to bless the union of two mortals. Musically, it is a gem, rich in quotations from at least six of Rossini’s operas. And this performance could not make a more convincing case for it. Chailly produces playing of tremendous warmth, wit and urgency from the orchestra of La Scala, much of it at dazzling tempi. And the soloists are exceptional. The sensational young Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez is a heroic Peleo, his tone flexible and honeyed, with every syllable and note distinct. And Bartoli is, as usual, wondrous, the accuracy, agility, range and speed of her coloratura astonishing. As Ceres, she has just one duet (with the excellent contralto Daniela Barcellona) and one aria. But what an aria it is, the second part of it all but identical musically to the showpiece ‘Non più mesta’ from La Cenerentola.
The second work, Il pianto d’Armonia, is another curiosity, written when Rossini was 16, for a tenor and male chorus, improbably playing nymphs. But again, this is an outstanding account, with Paul Austin Kelly deeply felt and affecting in the title role. Claire Wrathall