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Sonia Ganassi (Ermione), Marianna Pizzolato (Andromaca), Gregory Kunde (Pirro), Antonino Siragusa (Oreste), Ferdinand Von Bothmer (Pilade), Nicola Ulivieri (Fenicio), Irina Samoylova (Cleone), Cristina Faus (Cefisa) & Riccardo Botta (Attalo)
Bologna Theatre Orchestra & Prague Chamber Chorus, Roberto Abbado (conductor) & Daniele Abbado (director)
Set during the Second World War, this live recording of Ermione opened the Rossini Opera Festival in 2008.
An exceptional vocal cast, in particular Sonia Ganassi in the title role, described by David Blewitt in The Stage as “deploy[ing] an astonishing vocal armoury to searing effect. Her fury during the Act I finale is hair-raising”
This production sees a collaboration between cousins Roberto and Daniele Abbado, nephew and son respectively of celebrated conductor Claudio Abbado.
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‘Carmen Giannattasio’s performance was a triumph’ Geoff Brown, The Times (reviewing the concert performance)
During the years from 1815 to 1822 when his career centred on Naples, Rossini composed a sequence of works for the Teatro San Carlo, which at that time boasted an outstanding orchestra and a company of resident singers that was the leading ensemble available anywhere. A string of masterpieces resulted, including such works as Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, Otello, Ricciardo e Zoraide and La donna del lago (all featuring in Opera Rara’s catalogue).
Ermione is without doubt one of the greatest operas by Rossini, despite it being perhaps the least immediately successful: Ermione was received with incomprehension at its sole performance in 1819 and was never revived in Rossini’s lifetime. The composer was resigned: ‘It is my little Guillaume Tell in Italian,’ he said, ‘and will not see the light of day until after my death.’ Since its first stage revival in Pesaro in 1987, Ermione has been recognised as a lost masterpiece. Set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, the opera’s novelties begin with an overture interrupted by a choral lament of Trojan prisoners. Tension and staggering originality are maintained right to the very end.
The 2CD set comes with a lavishly illustrated book including a complete libretto with an English translation. Article and synopsis by the eminent 19th-century musical scholar, Jeremy Commons.
“Parry’s conducting is taut yet singer- (and woodwind-solo) friendly and unfailingly dramatic. The standoffs between Carmen Giannattasio’s Ermione, Paul Nilon’s Pirro and Patricia Bardon’s Andromaca bristle with theatrical temperament. Giannattasio is occasionally raw, but thrilling, while Colin Lee (Oreste) and Bardon show you don’t have to be Italian to shine in this music.” Sunday Times, 26th September 2010 ***
“All [three tenors] thrive when sparring with Carmen Giannattasio’s Ermione – a performance of temperament and style, not least in her hair-raising finale, where she combines the thrilling range of a Sutherland and the dramatic intelligence of a classical tragédienne. Her Italianate sensibility is all the more precious in a cast dominated by Anglophone singers.” Financial Times, 2nd October 2010 ****
“There's a spaciousness to David Parry's conducting and the London Philharmonic Orchestra finds ominous foreboding and sumptuous colours. Add to that some soloists who really know what makes this music bubble with simmering angst, and you have a very attractive package indeed.” Classic FM Magazine, November 2010 *****
“Paul Nilon's suavely vainglorious Pirro is pitted against Colin Lee's electrifying, altogether more volatile Oreste. Patricia Bardon makes much of Andromaca's implacably moral nobility, while David Parry's edgy, hard-driven conducting is admirably suited to the work's nerve-ridden atmosphere.” The Guardian, 7th October 2010 ****
“In her recitatives Giannattasio has something of the limpid lyricism of the young Sutherland...Paul Nilon, who is quite simply singing better and better, is by turns a tyrannical and sympathetic Pirro...Parry expertly leads the LPO through this fine piece as if they had been playuing it all their professional lives.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 ****
“The new recording runs at white heat whenever Colin Lee's Orestes is on stage. This is a fierce and brilliantly realised portrait of the erotically obsessed and emotionally unstable fall guy...Pilade is sung with comparable mastery of the role by Bülent Bezdüz, a model of comprimario playing...a notable achievement, purposeful and bold, and the documentation is first-rate.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010
“[Giannattasio's] is an Ermione whose mental disintegration is almost visible...[She] does not hold back, so the potency of the confrontation is fearsome and gripping...Bardon brings the warmth of tone and, easy, flowing vocal production that suit the Trojan queen's behaviour and she deals with Rossinian floridity as adroitly as do her colleagues.” International Record Review, December 2010
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“Any recording of Rossini's early masterpiece is to be treasured, even if, as here, Ermione's three tenors leave something to be desired. Cecilia Gasdia glitters as the eponymous heroine.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2010 ****
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