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.
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.
For years the undisputed Rossini tenor par excellence, Juan Diego Flórez at last makes his debut in the hugely demanding role of Arnold and 'masters his part with seemingly effortless perfection' (Die Presse). Graham Vick's 2013 production gives the opera uncut in its original French version, complete with the often omitted ballet music. The William Tell legend of patriotic and political intrigue in 14th-century Switerland is interpreted by Vick as a timeless class conflict with dramatic and unforgettable images. A 'perfect cast' is conducted with 'verve and intensity' (Opera Today)
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
It is probably now or never. With classic older sets vying with a clutch of more recent recordings, there is currently as complete and interesting an array of recordings of Rossini's La Cenerentola as we are likely to get at any one time. Among recent versions, Chailly's new Decca set is self-evidently a powerful contender. Cecilia Bartoli is arguably the most personable and musically accomplished Cenerentola since Teresa Berganza recorded the role with Abbado in 1971; and there is a strong cast of supporting principals, among them Alessandro Corbelli who offers the best characterized Dandini since Bruscantini. (With the added advantage of being far more technically expert in fioriture passages than was his distinguished predecessor.)
Cecilia Bartoli remains one of the world's finest Rossini singers and she proves it again with Il Turco in Italia, her 1st complete Rossini recording since 1993. The performance was recorded in Milan, with the power of the La Scala Orchestra & Chorus and the best Rossini an cast possible, led - of course - by Cecilia Bartoli's coloratura, more brilliant than ever.
Rossini was 24 years old when in 1816 he wrote his seventeenth and most famous opera The Barber of Seville in an astonishing three weeks. Michael Hampe’s humorous direction of his 1988 live performance at the Schwetzingen SWR Festival stands out with its fast tempo that makes for a highly exuberant production. Ezio Firgerio’s appealing stage and Mauro Pagano’s colourful costumes heighten the comic effect. The musical direction of conductor Gabriele Ferro strikes a beautiful balance between a vibrant orchestral performance and a superb ensemble of singers. The irresistible Cecilia Bartoli as Rosina leads a cast that also includes David Kuebler, Gino Quilico and Carlos Feller.