Rossini’s appearance on Italian stages was not a breath of fresh air, it was a real tornado. If we compare any comic opera by the young Rossini with those, even among the best, of his finest predecessors, like Paisiello and Cimarosa, the first thing we notice is the marked change of rhythm that Rossini applies to the event he is setting, whatever it may be. All this can be seen most clearly in one of Rossini’s greatest comic masterpieces, L’Italiana in Algeri, an opera which Rossini wrote for the San Benedetto theatre in Venice, staged on 22nd May 1813. L’Italiana in Algeri was immediately greeted with triumphant receptions, nor indeed could it have failed to be, given the absolutely dazzling musical quality of the score. The opera, as we know, portrays the adventures of the astute Isabella, Italian prisoner of the sultan Mustapha, who has wearied of his docile, submissive wives and seeks a new wife who can stand up to him: in this Isabella succeeds all too well, wrapping the sultan around her finger and then reducing him to despair as she finally returns to Italy with her beloved Lindoro and suitor Taddeo. Staged at the Rossini Opera Festival last summer, with Donato Renzetti conducting the Orchestra of Teatro Comunale di Bologna, this production is interpreted by Marianna Pizzolato, Marco Vinco, Barbara Bargnesi, Maria José Lo Monaco, Alex Esposito, Maxim Mironov and Bruno De Simone. The imaginative direction is by Dario Fo.
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