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Gioachino Rossini: Il Turco in Italia
20 Jul 2009

Rossini: Il Turco in Italia

If the economic downturn has canceled some opera lovers plans to attend any of the appealing European summer festivals, perhaps a trip online will find a DVD of a production from a recent year.

Gioachino Rossini: Il Turco in Italia

Selim: Marco Vinco; Fiorilla: Alessandra Marianelli; Geronio: Andrea Concetti; Narciso: Filippo Adami; Prosdocimo: Bruno Taddia; Zaida: Elena Belfiore; Albazar: Daniele Zanfardino. Prague Chamber Choir. Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento. Antonello Allemandi, conductor. Guido De Monticelli, stage director.

Naxos 2.110259 [DVD]

$26.99  Click to buy

Naxos, for example, just released an August 2007 production from the annual Rossini Opera Festival held every summer at the Teatro Rossini in Pesaro. A sort of companion piece to his more popular L’Italiana in Algeri, Il Turco in Italia shares no characters with its better-loved cousin. On the demerit side, it also shares neither L’Italiana’s memorable tunefulness nor relatively comprehensible plot. In Turco, the character of a poet almost serves to break “the fourth wall,” manipulating the other characters into providing the sort of romantic complications that inspire his art. Besides the visiting Turkish prince, a band of gypsies cavorts with the usual young lovers, and “all ends happily,” as the booklet synopsis states.

The booklet essay features too little about this opera in particular, focusing instead on a condensed biography of the composer. It is in the synopsis that Richard Lawrence identifies particular numbers apparently composed by someone other than Rossini, including the opera’s conclusion. Perhaps this particular piece did not elicit from Rossini his top-drawer inspiration, but the score never noticeably sags. A couple of seasons back Covent Garden had a hit with the opera, with a cast led by Cecilia Bartoli. Although mostly attractive and able, a lack of star-power in this Rossini Opera Festival staging mutes some of the piece’s intended charm. As the Turk, Marco Vinco has more voice (a mellow, solid bass) than personality. The roles of the young married couple at the center of the Poet’s amorous shenanigans are performed by Alessandra Marianelli, a pleasant enough voice, and Andrea Concetti, adequate but hardly distinctive. A more impressive tenor appears in the small role of Albazar. Here Daniele Zanfardina shines, especially in a very sweet second act aria. As might come as no surprise, the Poet character wears out his welcome fairly quickly, through no fault of the earnest efforts of Bruno Taddia.

The Teatro Rossini’s small stage is not exactly crowded with Paolo Bregni’s sets. A bare stone platform, perhaps resembling a wharf, serves for most of the action. A more elaborate setting for Donna Fiorella’s home provides the eye with some distraction. Santuzza Cali’s costumes are colorful if conventional. Guido De Monticelli, the director, keeps things moving, if without much inspiration.

Antonello Allemandi conducts an ensemble with the wonderful name of Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento. Naxos provides the musicians with crisp, clean sound for their energetic efforts.

Not an outstanding release, then, but a fine summer distraction, and at the Naxos price, much less damage to one’s pocketbook than a trip to Pesaro.

Chris Mullins

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