The comic-heroic romp Matilde di Shabran was Rossini’s last commission for the theatres of Rome, the city where he’d had great successes such as Il barbiere di Siviglia. Rossini took advantage of the agile, sparkling style of librettist Jacopo Ferretti to create a narrative in which the ferocious Corradino, a declared misogynist, is introduced to the resourceful Matilde, who succeeds in melting his iron heart and winning his love. This premiere recording revives the original 1821 Rome version, which was conducted at the last minute by Paganini, and caused brawling in the streets between Rossini’s admirers and detractors.
This splendid recording of the original Rome version of Matilde, recorded at the 2019 Rossini Wildbad Festival in Germany, relishes the almost comic tale of the melodramatic medieval tyrant Corradino conquered by love, or rather Matilde, with a score packed with some of Rossini’s most accomplished music.
Michele Angelini is magnificent as the villain, everything that you hope for in a Rossini tenor—fleet of voice in his runs and trills and with gravity-defying head notes. Sara Blanch’s Matilde matches him note for note. Their Act I duet ‘Ch’io fugga ha già timore…’ is a thrilling lesson in Rossini singing. There’s good work from the rest of the cast, notably the contralto Victoria Yarovaya as Edoardo, who Corradino has unjustly imprisoned and turns tragedy into comedy. Equally pleasing is the Passionart Orchestra conducted by José Miguel Pérez-Sierra. All scrupulously Rossinian including the celebrated horn solo at the beginning of Act II.
– BBC Music Magazine