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Donald Macleod presents five takes on the life and music of Gioachino Rossini. Today, Rossini is seen through the enthusiastic but distorting lens of 19th-century writer Stendhal.

This week, Donald Macleod presents five takes on the life and music of Gioachino Rossini. Today, Rossini seen through the enthusiastic but distorting lens of the writer Stendahl.

“Light, lively, amusing, never wearisome but seldom exalted – Rossini would appear to have been brought into this world for the express purpose of conjuring up visions of ecstatic delight in the commonplace soul of the Average Man.” – a typically ambivalent pronouncement by the composer’s earliest biographer. Baptised Marie-Henri Beyle, Stendahl is best known today as a writer of fiction, and there’s a substantial fictive element about his biography of the world’s greatest living Italian composer, written when his subject, already an international celebrity, was less than halfway through his life. Nonetheless, Stendahl provides an eyewitness account of Rossini’s life in its busiest and most productive period, and while he can be an infuriatingly unreliable guide, he’s also a delightful and, ultimately, indispensible one.

Tancredi; Act 1 Scene 5, ‘Di tanti palpiti’
Marilyn Horne, mezzo soprano (Tancredi)
Teatro La Fenice Orchestra
Ralf Weikert, conductor

La pietra del paragon; Act 2, extract:
– ‘A caccia o mio Signore’ (chorus)
– ‘Oh come il fosco impetuoso nembo’ / ‘Quell’alme pupille’ (Giocondo))
José Carerras, tenor (Giocondo)
The Clarion Concerts Orchestra and Chorus
Newell Jenkins, conductor

L’Italiana in Algeri; Act 1 Scene 4 (finale)
Teresa Berganza, mezzo soprano (Isabella)
Fernando Corena, bass (Mustafà)
Rolando Panerai, baritone (Taddeo)
Paolo Montarsolo, bass (Haly)
Luigi Alva, tenor (Lindoro)
Giuliana Tavolaccini, soprano (Elvira)
Mitì Truccato Pace, mezzo soprano (Zulma)
Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra
Silvio Varviso, conductor

Mosé in Egitto; Act 3
Lorenzo Regazzo, bass (Mosé)
Akie Amou, soprano (Elcìa)
Karen Bandelow, mezzo soprano (Amenofi)
Giorgio Trucco, tenor (Aronne)
Wojtek Gierlach, bass (Faraone)
Giuseppe Fedeli, tenor (Mambre)
Sa Pietro a Majella Chorus
Württemberg Philharmonic Orchestra
Antonino Fogliani, conductor

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Gioachino Rossini

    Tancredi: Act 1, Scene 5

    Singer: Marilyn Horne. Orchestra: La Fenice Theatre Venice Orchestra. Conductor: Ralf Weikert.
    • SONY 88985470352.
    • SONY.
    • 7.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    La Pietra del paragone: A caccia, O mio Signore

    Singer: José Carreras. Choir: Clarion Concerts Chorus. Orchestra: Clarion Concerts Orchestra. Conductor: Newell Jenkins.
    • VANGUARD 08 9031 73.
    • VANGUARD.
    • 8.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    L' Italiana in Algeri: Act 1 Finale

    Singer: Teresa Berganza. Singer: Fernando Corena. Singer: Rolando Panerai. Singer: Luigi Alva. Singer: Giuliana Tavolaccini. Singer: Mitì Truccato Pace. Orchestra: Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra. Choir: Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus. Conductor: Silvio Varviso.
    • DECCA 417 828-2.
    • DECCA.
    • 13.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    Mose in Egitto: Act 3

    Singer: Lorenzo Regazzo. Singer: Akie Amou. Singer: Karen Bandelow. Singer: Giorgio Trucco. Choir: Sa Pietro A Majella Chorus. Orchestra: Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen. Conductor: Antonino Fogliani.
    • NAXOS 8.660220-21.
    • NAXOS.
    • 10.

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