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Rossini: Sigismondo / Barcellona, Peretyatko, Siragusa, Mariotti

Rossini / Barcellona / Concetti / Mariotti
Release Date: 09/25/2012 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 101648  
Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Andrea ConcettiOlga PeretyatkoDaniela BarcellonaAntonino Siragusa,   ... 
Conductor:  Michele Mariotti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale ChorusBologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray

Gioachino Rossini

Sigismondo – Daniela Barcellona
Aldimira – Olga Peretyatko
Anagilda – Manuela Bisceglie
Ulderico / Zenovito – Andrea Concetti
Ladislao – Antonino Siragusa
Radoski – Enea Scala

Teatro Comunale di Bologna Chorus and Orchestra
(chorus master: Paolo Vero)
Michele Mariotti, conductor
Damiano Michieletto, stage director

Paolo Fantin, stage designer
Carla Teti, costume designer
Alessandro Carletti, lighting designer

Recorded live from the Rossini Opera
Read more Festival Pesaro, 2010

- The Making of Sigismondo

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Korean
Running time: 164 mins (opera) + 19 mins (bonus)
No. of DVDs: 2 (DVD 9)

R E V I E W: 3643360.az_ROSSINI_Sigismondo_Michele_Mariotti.html

ROSSINI Sigismondo Michele Mariotti, cond; Daniela Barcellona ( Sigismondo ); Olga Peretyatko ( Aldmira ); Manuela Bisceglie ( Anagilda ); Antonio Siragusa ( Ladislao ); Andrea Concetti ( Ulderico ); Enea Scala ( Radoski ); Bologna Teatro Comunale O & Ch ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 648 (2 DVDs: 164: 00, opera; 19:00, bonus; 108 062 (Blu-ray) Live: Pesaro 2010

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that major players in the history of Italian opera, gifted composers such as Gioachino Rossini and Giuseppe Verdi had their own flops as well as hits. Sigismondo is one such of Rossini’s so-called failures, although to these modern ears there is much to enjoy musically. Written for the Teatro La Fenice in Venice in 1814, Rossini’s 14th opera was apparently met with rather polite disinterest by the Venetian opera public, unlike some very sour receptions Rossini was to receive in Milan and Naples, two other hot-beds of operatic activity. The story, with libretto by Giuseppe Foppa, mirrors Shakespeare’s Othello to a degree. Sigismondo, King of Poland, has been falsely told by his trusted advisor Ladislao (read Iago), that his wife Aldimira is unfaithful and has been sleeping around. The treacherous Ladislao lusts after the royal wife himself. Our boy Siggy, not to be outdone by Othello, sentences her to death, but unlike Shakespeare’s Desdemona, Aldimira escapes the king’s wrath and goes into hiding in the deep Polish woods. Now, some 15 years later, the king and his trusted advisor are both having guilt-ridden obsessive thoughts about their poor treatment of the deposed queen. To apply added pressure, King Ulderico of Bohemia and Aldimira’s daddy, is demanding the Polish Court produce his daughter forthwith or he will declare war. They don’t and he does, but on a foray into the Polish interior the royal party comes across old Zenovito and his lovely daughter, she the spitting image of the disgraced queen. A plot is hatched to bring the young woman to court and pass her off as the “late” queen and prove to everyone she is alive and well. Of course the lady in question is the actual queen herself, and events proceed from there, with the guilty advisor, now turned suspicious and predatory, gradually being undone, the remorseful king taking his well-deserved lumps, and the disgruntled, but ultimately loving queen dictating the forward action of the plot. All of this operatic turmoil is resolved when the Bohemian king finally recognizes his own daughter from a letter in her possession (What? No distinctive birthmark on her royal bottom?) and an emotionally satisfactory happy ending ensues. Clearly, this is not the stuff of Tosca or La bohème , none of the rather dysfunctional characters save the queen can gain our empathy or support for long. Perhaps the bored Venetian audience got it right.

Upon that point of dysfunctionality this 2010 Pesaro production builds. A relatively small Adriatic coastal town, Pesaro’s major claim to fame is that Rossini was born there. The town takes great pride, as they should, in the annual summer Rossini Fest, honoring the Pesaro composer with professional productions of some of his most obscure works. At one time the festival was producing issue after issue of Italian opera’s most sought-after DVDs, illuminating rare Rossini works in quite traditional and enjoyable productions, but for the last few years the Pesaro products have been long on music-making while coming up well short on truly satisfactory stagings. If not actual Regietheater, we have been given willful and sometimes obtrusive directorial concepts.

Here, the opera opens in a large room with tall windows, a ward in a mental institution, on the assumption the king has gone round the bend in his guilty obsession over his treatment of his late queen. Setting an opera in a mental institution is neither a fresh idea nor a very congenial one, and this institution appears to be particularly dysfunctional, the patients are off their meds and acting out bizarrely. The king, played as a pants role by mezzo soprano Daniela Barcellona, enters in a wheelchair wearing a hospital gown and compulsively pulling at his/her fingers. For Barcellona, acting in act I comprises cowering, cringing, looking despondent, and curling into fetal positions. The other principals come to visit and we get all of Rossini’s sprightly music in a truly depressing milieu, with the out-of-control patients hovering menacingly around all of the singers. Act II transpires in the same room, but the king is now apparently recovered, and the room is now a hall of state, somewhere inside the royal court. The demented creepys haven’t gone away, however; they appear at the windows and enter to harass the singers again, as they did in act I, stage director Damiano Michieletto boinking the audience over the head with the often slender distinctions between sanity and madness, reality and fantasy. The trend at Pesaro lately has been not to trust the material supplied by Rossini and his librettists to provide an entertaining show. Instead, we are saddled with conceptually crippled dreck like this.

On the other hand, the singing at Pesaro has, in general, been quite fine. The Rossini Institute there teaches young singers in the bravura techniques of bel canto style and the very best of the bel canto singers, like Juan Diego Flórez and Daniella Barcellona, are attracted there by the fine scholarship of the critical edition scores, the expertise available in vocal ornamentation, and the fine music-making. This cast is no exception, and the Sigismondo score, if not Rossini’s very best work, still has several very good bits and is quite entertaining. I keep a little mental list of current singers who really understand the bel canto style and can sing it properly, and not just sopranos, florid bel canto music has been written for all vocal ranges, and by composers as diverse as Handel, Mozart, and Verdi. Young Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko will be added to the list immediately, she is a real find. Here, she plays the maligned queen with gentle dignity and in great voice with all the bedlam going on around her. She appears almost too young for a middle-aged queen, but she brings all the vocal goods, providing enchanting lyric coloratura singing. Daniella Barcellona, of course, was already on my list, and here she acquits herself with vocal distinction as the conflicted king. In act II her fine acting skills can more properly be displayed, and her voice intertwines with Peretyatko’s in aurally ravishing fashion in their duets together, a highlight of the opera. The tenor, Antonio Siragusa, who plays Ladislao, the king’s confidant and the villain of the piece, has a somewhat nasal cast to his voice, but once you get used to it, he sings quite well, and handles the Rossini fioratura with confidence. Andrea Concetti, as the King of Bohemia, and Manuella Bisceglie as the Minister’s sister also perform well in smaller roles. Choral and orchestral forces of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna provide quite excellent musical support and seem to have a great affinity with the Rossini music.

The only other currently available recording of Sigismondo is on a Bongiovanni CD set led by conductor Richard Bonynge and featuring mezzo-soprano Sonia Ganassi. Although Bonynge understands this music to his core, the musical nod must still go to this Arthaus production. As you may have discerned by now, I do not care for the Pesaro staging, but musically this production is the best set of the opera to have.

FANFARE: Bill White    
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Works on This Recording

Sigismondo by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Andrea Concetti (Bass), Olga Peretyatko (Soprano), Daniela Barcellona (Mezzo Soprano),
Antonino Siragusa (Tenor), Enea Scala (Tenor)
Conductor:  Michele Mariotti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1814; Italy 

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