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Donald Macleod presents five takes on the life and music of Gioachino Rossini. Today, Rossini’s serious side.

This week, Donald Macleod presents five takes on the life and music of Gioachino Rossini. Today, Rossini’s serious side.

With the exception of William Tell, from which most people know only the overture, Rossini is generally regarded first and foremost as a composer of comic operas – the most familiar of these being The Barber of Seville. With a couple of notable exceptions, his serious operas remain relatively virgin territory, yet as Rossini expert Richards Osborne points out, it’s on the sequence of nine opere serie Rossini wrote for Naples between 1815 and 1822 that his reputation as the founding father of Italian 19th-century opera principally rests. Today’s programme explores three of these operas: Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, with which Rossini made his dazzling Neapolitan début; Zelmira, with which he said farewell Naples and hello Vienna; and Ermione, which ran for only seven performances before being indefinitely mothballed. “Ermione is my little William Tell,” said Rossini, “and it will not see the light of day until after my death.” He was right; a century-and-a-half after its disastrous opening run it was triumphantly revived, and many now regard it as his tragic masterpiece.

Il barbiere di Siviglia; Act 1 Scene 1, ‘Largo al factotum’
Sesto Bruscantini, baritone (Figaro)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Vittorio Gui, conductor

Zelmira; Act 1 Scene 5 (extract):
– ‘S'intessano agli allori’
– ‘Terra amica’
Juan Diego Flórez, tenor (Ilio)
Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra; Act 2 Scene 1 (extract)
– ‘Dov'è Matilde?’
– ‘Pensa che sol per poco’
– ‘Non bastan quelle lagrime’
– ‘Misero me!...la sposa’
– ‘L'avverso nio destino’
– ‘Ah! Fra Poco, in Faccia A Morte’
Montserrat Caballé, (Elisabetta)
Neil Jenkins, (Guglielmo)
Valerie Masterson, (Matilde)
London Symphony Orchestra
Gianfranco Masini, conductor

Ermione; Act 1 Scene 6 (finale)
Colin Lee, tenor (Oreste)
Carmen Giannattasio, soprano (Ermione)
Paul Nilon, tenor (Pirro)
Rebecca Bottone, soprano (Cleone)
Patricia Bardon, mezzo soprano (Andromaca)
Victoria Simmonds, alto (Cefisa)
Bülent Bezdüz, tenor (Pilade)
Loïc Félix, tenor (Attalo)
Graeme Broadbent, baritone (Fenicio)
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra
David Parry, conductor

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Gioachino Rossini

    Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Act 1 (Largo al factotum)

    Singer: Sesto Bruscantini. Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Vittorio Gui.
    • EMI 5677622.
    • EMI.
    • 7.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Zelmira: Act 1 (s'intessano agli allori)

    Singer: Juan Diego Flórez. Orchestra: Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi. Conductor: Riccardo Chailly.
    • Decca: 4700242.
    • Decca.
    • 6.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra: Act 2, Scene 1

    Singer: Montserrat Caballé. Singer: Neil Jenkins. Singer: Valerie Masterson. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Gianfranco Masini.
    • PHILIPS 432453-2.
    • PHILIPA.
    • 1.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Ermione: Act 1 finale

    Singer: Colin Lee. Singer: Carmen Giannattasio. Singer: Paul Nilon. Singer: Rebecca Bottone. Singer: Patricia Bardon. Singer: Victoria Simmonds. Choir: Geoffrey Mitchell Choir. Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: David Parry.
    • OPERA RARA ORC42.
    • OPERA RARA.
    • 4.

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