Rossini might have dressed his opera in biblical garb, but it is still a story of the conflict of love and patriotic duty that had become the basis of Italian opera. That the plight of the Jews in Egypt is a mirror image of all that is happening today in the Middle East has sparked director, Graham Vick, to think afresh about the opera, the enclosed booklet delving into his thought process, as the present day political and religious leaders use ordinary people as pawns to satisfy their own personal agenda for power. In its original form the Egyptian Pharoh’s son, Osiride, falls in love with the Israelite girl, Elcia and that is about to come to an end when the Pharoh is minded to give the Israelites their freedom to leave Egypt. Now he has to reverse that decision to keep his loved one in Egypt by all means possible…David’s Review Corner
Despite having to mentor a 17-year-old law student through the versifying of the libretto for Maria Stuarda in 1834, when it was finally finished Gaetano Donizetti believed that he and the young man, Giuseppe Bardari, had created a powerful and high-quality opera for the eagerly expectant Naples public. He was quite disappointed then, when the Bourbon King of Naples absolutely refused to allow its performance (the King’s wife was a distant descendant of the Catholic Stewart queen, whom many Italians considered a martyr to her religion). Troubling to the censors was not only the subject of a beheaded Catholic royal, but also the strongly emotional and bitter interchange between the two queens in their act II confrontation at Fotheringhay Castle (an interchange that historically never occurred; the two queens never met in real life)…FANFARE: Bill White
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.