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The latest instalment in the lauded Chandos Opera in English label is Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers. One of Rossini’s most wonderful comic operas, it has a plot full of wit, warmth and endearing craziness and music bubbling with fun and laughter.
Jennifer Larmore, who last appeared on Chandos Opera in English, in the Grammy-Award winning, Hansel and Gretel, is renowned for her performances of Isabella. She here performs the role in the premiere recording of the work in English language. Jennifer is superbly supported by Barry Banks, Alastair Miles and Alan Opie, under the lively baton of Brad Cohen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. Brad recently conducted Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers for Chandos OIE which elicited excellent reviews.
Issued as a ‘highlights’ disc, this is the perfect way to familiarise yourself with the opera.
Gioachino Rossini: L'Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers)
Act I: Cavatina: In dreams of endless pleasure (Languir per una bella) (Lindoro)
Act I: Duet: When I choose a girl to marry (Se inclinassi a prender moglie) (Lindoro, Mustafa)
Act I: Cavatina: Fate is cruel! (Quanta sorte!) (Isabella, Chorus)
Act I: Duet: From the buffets of misfortune (Ai capricci della sorte) (Isabella, Taddeo)
Act I: Aria: I am filled in an exquisite fashion (Gia d'insolito ardore nel petto) (Mustafa)
Act I: Finale: We salute you, oh master of women (Viva, viva il flagel delle donne) (Chorus, Haly, Mustafa)
Act I: Oh, how amusing! (Oh! Che muso, che figura!) (Isabella, Mustafa)
Act I: Please tell me where my niece is (Vo' star con mia nipote) (Taddeo, Haly, Mustafa, Isabella)
Act I: Though we must part from you (Pria di dividerci da voi, Signore) (Elvira, Zulma, Lindoro, Isabella, Mustafa, Haly, Taddeo)
Act I: Tell me, who is this woman? (Dite: che e quella femmina) (Isabella, Mustafa, Elvira, Zulma, Lindoro, Haly, Chorus)
Act II: Aria: All this shouting makes my head ache (Ho un gran peso sulla testa) (Taddeo, Chorus)
Act II: Cavatina: Sweetest treasure, dearest pleasure (Per lui che adoro) (Isabella, Mustafa, Taddeo, Lindoro)
Act II: Trio: Sugar-daddy! How delightful! (Pappataci! Che mai sento!) (Mustafa, Lindoro, Taddeo)
Act II: Rondo: Think of your country (Pensa alla patria, e intrepido) (Isabella, Chorus)
“Barry Banks is a properly plaintive Lindoro… and Alastair Miles's soft-grained bass makes the lovelorn Mustafà an oddly touching figure. Best of all is the utterly dependable Alan Opie who turns tiresome Taddeo into much more than Isabella's lap dog.”
“Rossini's The Italian Girl distils readily onto a single CD. The First Act is substantially there and the Second can survive without the Quintet. The only gripe concerns the decision to end with Isabella's Rondo. Rossini finished serious and mixed-mode operas this way but not the out-and-out comedies. The final vaudeville runs for around 2'20” and should have been included. With opera in English, translation is key. Arthur Jacobs's translation in the vocal score of the Ricordi Critical Edition is a workmanlike affair but it isn't a patch on David Parry's brilliant new version. Lines from Isabella's cavatina are typically felicitous: “Through years of practising / I have perfected / The gesture languishing / The sigh affected”. Jennifer Larmore has recorded the opera in Italian (Teldec) but her English Isabella, superbly articulated and projected, is both formidable and funny. Her Act 2 cavatina, played with the original cello obbligato, is the lyric highlight. Happily, the three men in her life are equally vividly characterised: Alan Opie as her hang-dog admirer Taddeo, Barry Banks a most eloquent Lindoro, and Alastair Miles as the lascivious Mustafà. Fifty years ago there was barely a bass in Europe who could find his way around Mustafà's bumbling coloratura, let alone project the text as Miles does here. Brad Cohen conducts superbly, bringing out the strength and expressive range of music that revels in the thrill of sexual confrontation and the speed and power of the vortex into which so-called civilised society can all too rapidly vanish.”
“A remarkable recording of the best bits of Rossini's comedy… Jennifer Larmore has recorded the opera in Italian… but her English Isabella, superbly articulated and projected, is both formidable and funny. Her Act 2 cavatina, played with the original cello, is the lyric highlight. Happily, the three men in her life are equally vividly characterised: Alan Opie as her hang-dog admirer Taddeo, Barry Banks a most eloquent Lindoro, and Alastair Miles as the lascivious Mustafa. Brad Cohen conducts superbly, bringing out the strength and expressive range of music that revels in the thrill of sexual confrontation...”
11th April 2009
“Jennifer Larmore is a technically impressive if weighty Isabella, Alastair Miles an odiously amorous Bey, but Alan Opie’s comic Taddeo takes the Rossinian honours.”