Notes and Editorial Reviews
Picture format: NTSC 16:9 (widescreen)
Sound format: LPCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1
Region code: 0 (All Region)
Booklet Languages: English, French, German
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Running time: 155 mins
R E V I E W S
Rossini was only 21 when his Tancredi was premiered at Venice's major operatic venue, La Fenice, in 1813--but he already had nine operas behind him, mostly successful one-act comedies. This was his breakthrough, though in opera seria. It was a success at its opening despite the indisposition of the main singer; the hero's cabaletta, "Di tanti palpiti", was so memorable that every gondolier in Venice was humming it the next
morning. Within two years it began to catch on all over Europe and beyond, traveling through Italy to Munich, Dresden, Vienna, London, Paris, and then to New York (in 1825). Like most of Rossini's serious operas, it eventually disappeared from the repertoire; also like most of his serious operas, it has come back with something like a vengeance.
There are about four complete recordings of the opera and this DVD brings the total number in that format to three; the opera has been performed frequently over the past year, with mezzos Ewa Podles and Daniela Barcellona making a specialty of it. Rossini revised the opera for a performance in Ferrara, changing the happy ending to one in which Tancredi dies, a hero, with his beloved Amenaide by his side. It is this ending--quiet, intense, intimate, and very daring for its day--that's most commonly used now, and that is the one that appears here.
This production, designed and directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, originated at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro in 1999; it traveled to Rome and then Florence, where this performance was filmed in 2005. Pizzi's view is very classical: columns, some upright, some fallen, an altar, an equestrian statue, marble stairs; black and white costumes (tunics, togas, chain mail) for all except Tancredi and his faction, which are in crimson (until late in the action when even Tancredi, presumably as a gesture of solidarity, dons black leather). There are movable panels that help define the playing area. The overall effect is austere, and the direction of the cast (taken over in this revival by Massimio Gasparon) is minimal. The lighting, by Sergio Rossi, sets the mood, greatly abetting the action of the performers.
The star is Daniela Barcellona as Tancredi. The possessor of a warm, true mezzo voice that can handle fiorature effortlessly, she also takes the noble character very seriously and carries herself with dignity. She doesn't benefit much from close-ups, but her involvement and absolutely expert technique make her portrayal believable and notable. Her slow, sad death scene is pure emotion wedded to pure tone. Soprano Darina Takova's bright tone and lovely demeanor allows us to care about Amenaide, and she is as engaging in long cantilena lines as she is in flights of coloratura. Her duets with Tancredi, which are almost as impressive as those Rossini wrote years later for Semiramide and Arsace, are stunning.
Tenor Raul Gimenez sings the role of Amenaide's father, Argirio, and here, a bit late in his career, he skillfully gets through it by avoiding many of Rossini's high notes and abbreviating some of the more embellished music. Marco Spotti's dark bass is effective as Orbazzano, who wants Amenaide's hand in marriage, and as Tancredi's friend Roggiero, countertenor Nicola Marchesini exhibits good tone and a fine dramatic sense. Barbara di Castri sings Isaura, Amenaide's companion, with somewhat too grand a sound.
Riccardo Frizza is a true Rossinian and he holds the ensemble together as well as he accompanies the soloists. The recitatives are delivered too slowly at times, but this may be to underline the gravity of the plot. This DVD is better than its competitors: one from the Schwetzingen Opera is well sung but lacks all conviction in the two female leads; the other, from Trieste, also stars Barcellona in fine form but is hampered by static staging and poor, sometimes out-of-sync sound. TDK offers brilliant picture and sound and very good camera work. Subtitles are in English, French, Italian, and German. Tancredi is a very important part of Rossini's output and gives great pleasure when performed as well as it is here.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Tancredi by Gioachino Rossini
Nicola Marchesini (Tenor),
Raúl Giménez (Tenor),
Barbara Di Castri (Mezzo Soprano),
Daniela Barcellona (Mezzo Soprano),
Darina Takova (Soprano),
Marco Spotti (Bass)
Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,
Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Written: 1813; Italy
Date of Recording: 10/2005
Venue: Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
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