La cenerentola (“Cinderella”) is one of Rossini’s longest comedies, nearly three hours. For any readers who are not familiar with this opera, let me briefly tell you that it bears little resemblance to Perrault’s famous fairy tale. There is no fairy godmother, no pumpkin coach with mice turned into horses, no glass slipper, and no ball at the Prince’s with a midnight curfew. What’s left is a sweet girl, mistreated by her stepfather and vain stepsisters, and a prince in search of a wife…
FANFARE: David L. Kirk
William Tell is Rossini's last opera, and this Romantic heroic interpretation of Schiller's epic of Wilhelm Tell among his best works. Rossini composed this opera in Paris. The original libretto was written in French, for a French audience, chorus. Parisians by reputation had more refined musical technique and tastes than their Italian counterparts and Rossini applied the best of Italian opera technique, which he had mastered and more refined and complex French musical staging which he studied and adapted during his years in Paris.
The staging is fascinating. Vast panelled video screens provide the scenic backdrops. Videos of nature in all its glory are projected onto these. It makes for breathtaking effect, and the good news is that one does not tire of it.
Muti conducts with real assurance. Pacing the drama magnificently, it is on performances like these that the controversial Maestro has made his well-deserved musical reputation. Tell emerges as a masterpiece from first to last. Rossini's compositional confidence in his craft is never once in doubt, and there is no trace of any longueur anywhere…–Musicweb International
Here are two of Rossini's "secular" cantatas: "The Lament of Harmony on the Death of Orpheus" for tenor, male chorus, and orchestra, written when he was a 16-year-old conservatory student, and the far more substantial "Wedding of Thetis and Peleus," one of many such pieces he composed for special occasions, commissioned for the marriage of an Italian princess to a French prince. Both consist of primarily short, separate, contrasting numbers, most of which would be perfectly at home in the opera house.
Riccardo Chailly was born into a musical family in Milan. He studied at the conservatories in Milan and Perugia and received specialized training in conducting from Franco Ferrara at his Siena summer courses. At the age of 20, Chailly became assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at Milan’s La Scala. He made his opera debut there in 1978 and was soon in great demand at the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls.