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Rossini: Semiramide / Fogliani, Penda, Regazzo, Pizzolato, Osborn, Jokovic

Release Date: 07/30/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8660340   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Raffaele FacciolaJohn OsbornMarianna PizzolatoMarija Jokovic,   ... 
Conductor:  Antonino Fogliani
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi BrunensisPoznan Camerata Bach Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Length: 3 Hours 42 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ROSSINI Semiramide Antonio Fogliani, cond; Alex Penda ( Semiramide ); Marianna Pizzolato ( Arsace ); John Osborn ( Idreno ); Lorenzo Regazzo ( Assur ); Andrea Mastroni ( Oroe ); Marija Jokovic ( Azema ); Vassilis Kavayas ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Mitranpo ); Raffaele Facciolà ( Nino’s Ghost ); Camerata Bach Ch Pozna?; Virtuoso Brunensis NAXOS 8.660340-42 (3 CDs: 221:44 Text and Translation) Live: Bad Wildbad 7/18,19, 22/2012

Semiramide was Rossini’s last opera written for Italy, premiering in Venice in 1823. After the experimentation with form that distinguished the operas written for Naples, the composer here returns to the classic norms that had made his fortune, although now with an orchestral mastery and the ability to fill a large canvas hitherto only hinted at. This is the fourth complete recording using the Zedda edition and is a worthy contender for primacy. The many attributes of this live performance from the Rossini Festival at Bad Wildbad include excellent principals, who are undaunted by the challenges with which the score is laced. Alex Penda (formerly known as Alexandrina Pendatchanska) came to our notice with her radiant performance in Glinka’s Life for the Tsar in the early 1990s, progressing through an extraordinary variety of roles and styles (Handel and Mozart for René Jacobs, Rossini and Donizetti in numerous houses, as well as Ophélie or Marie, the daughter of the regiment). Her voice has evolved so that she easily encompasses the drama of Semiramide, but retains the easy coloratura of her youth. Chest voice is not eschewed, and she is one of those singers who clearly lives the drama. Marianna Pizzolato’s evenly-produced mezzo lacks the depths that we hear with certain other exponents of the Rossini mezzo roles, but she too negotiates with ease the hurdles with which her role is strewn. Lorenzo Regazzo is but the latest in a series of basses able to sing all the many notes, so that Rossini’s operas can continue to be presented. John Osborn, in the dramatically thankless role of Idreno, sings his two arias with fluency, which is basically what the role requires. Not a note of the score is omitted, so that we are better able to appreciate Rossini’s supremacy, a problem with pre-Zedda recordings that are heavily pruned.

Conductor Antonio Fogliani leads an exciting performance, but he is sometimes a bit short on nuance, unlike Alberto Zedda on the 1992 performance from that other Rossini festival in Spoleto. Zedda’s singers (Iano Tamar, Gloria Scalchi, Gregory Kunde, and Michele Pertusi) are on a par with the current crew, but the recording is not easy to find these days. A DGG recording with Cheryl Studer in her I-can-sing-anything days lacks the stylistic awareness otherwise displayed by Jennifer Larmore and Samuel Ramey. For a taste of perfection, you might listen to the two duets for the women as sung by Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne, but the recording (conducted by Richard Bonynge) is otherwise marred by an unspeakable tenor and a wooly bass.

FANFARE: Joel Kasow
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Works on This Recording

Semiramide by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Raffaele Facciola (Bass), John Osborn (Tenor), Marianna Pizzolato (Mezzo Soprano),
Marija Jokovic (Soprano), Lorenzo Regazzo (Bass), Alex Penda (Soprano),
Andrea Mastroni (Bass), Vassilis Kavayas (Tenor)
Conductor:  Antonino Fogliani
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi Brunensis,  Poznan Camerata Bach Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Excellent Performance January 23, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "The sparkling overture to Semiramide is periodically used as a stand-alone concert piece, and with good reason, as it is a bouncy, melodious exposition of some of the great melodies in Rossini's large scale tragic opera. Large scale in this case means lengthy- nearly 4 hours of superb bel canto singing. Based on a novel by Voltaire and concerning the fate of an Assyrian ruler, Semiramide's story line integrates many of the usual operatic themes prevalent in great Italian opera- lust for power, jealousy, revenge, and a search for redeeming love. This very fine Naxos recording presents another live Rossini performance from the Wildbad Festival in Germany, where several other Rossini operas have been recorded by Naxos. The principal singers, Alex Penda as Semiramide, Marianna Pizzolato as Arsace, Lorenzo Regazzo as the villain Assur, and American tenor John Osborn in the role as the luckless Idreno, give dynamic, impassioned expositions of their characters, ably supported by the lesser roles and the excellent Camerata Bach Choir. Antonino Gogliani leads the Czech chamber orchestra Virtuosi Brunensis to produce a thoroughly convincing and dynamic reading of Rossini's first class orchestral score. Naxos did not include a libretto, although reference is made to the Naxos website for the Italian language libretto. There is a synopsis of the story line, which helps somewhat, but I think it could have gone into greater detail on some of the background to the characters, especially for the first part of the opera, when the listener is just getting accustomed to the sound of the various voices in their respective roles. The relationship between the main roles in Semiramide is fairly complex, and I think a bit more explanatory information in the synopsis would add even more to the enjoyment one is certain to get from this fine performance. Apart from these last minor points, Naxos is to be commended for its excellent work in making Semiramide recording available. I very much recommend this 3 disk set to all opera fans." Report Abuse
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