"This is the best orchestration of this opera: The best brilliant one, the most exciting recording. But is so fast in moments when the singers should have a little freedom to demonstrate their virtuosism. The Scimone, with Ramey and Horne, recording do that, and the little video of Weikert, with Doris Soffel. The recitatives are cold, Baltsa only shows her power in the Rondo "Pensa alla Patria", Dara is not too afraid in his aria "Ho un gran pesso", etc. Only Lopardo and Raimondi are fenomenal, being Raimondi the best Mustafà in the aria "Gia d'insolito" i ever heard. But, don't be wrong, if it doesn't have virtuosism, it is the best recording (i'm not say that, everybody does it)."
Pleasant "Italiana " Recording
(4 out of 5 stars)
"CAST: Agnes Baltsa, Ruggero Raimondi, Enzo Dara, Frank Lopardo - Vienna Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado conductor. This recording, dating from the late 80's, is a beautiful recording and doubtless the combination of an Italian conductor and Italian opera-trained singers makes this recording especially striking. Agnes Baltsa is not your run-of-the-mill mezzo-soprano. Endowed with a flexible, lyric and powerful instrument, she handled the florid mezzo-coloratura music for bel canto operas quite well yet she was able to extend her repertory into dramatic roles like Venus in Wagner's Tannhauser and Princess Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo. As Isabella, she epitomizes the spirit of the Rossini Italian woman- feisty, scheming, madly in love, a fighter, witty, seductive and charming. She understands the part of Isabella down to a t. She lives the role. But because it's the late 80's and by this time her career was almost over, her singing voice is not quite what it should be. She is too much in control, too mellow, even mechanical in her singing that we don't get enough of freshness and "attitude" from her. If only she had recorded this role earlier in her career!! But nevertheless, if you're a fan of the great Agnes, this recording is definately for you. The story is simple. In what may have inspired the 50's musical "The King and I" the story is about the Italian noblewoman Isabella, in love with Lindoro, who is abducted by Mustafa who brings her to Algiers to be his bride. She outwits him and makes him realize the folly of his way. He is ultimately moved by her love for Lindoro. But even the romance itself is not the essence of this opera. At the time, it was delightful to see the exoticism of Algiers and amusing to see the cultural differences between an evidently Muslim country and the more "cultured" Italians.
Basso-cantante Ruggero Raimondi was by this time himself a veteran bel canto specialist. His baritone singing voice is still very good, in fact, a notch better than Agnes Baltsa's. He can still command the highly taxing and decorative music of Mustafa. Mustafa seems to be Rossini's version of Mozart's Pasha Selim from Abduction From The Seraglio, a sort of early King of Siam from The King and I. He is imperious, used to getting his way and butts heads when he finally meets his match in the temperamental and gutsy Isabella. However, Raimondi, too, is past his prime and sings without the necessary freshness to more fully encompass the character's personality. Also, it's just not in his nature as a singer to act out all his roles. The Vienna Phil is doing their usual great performance and Abbado delivers a great score. But I have to give this recording only 4 stars (which is still good) because it is only one step below a better recording, the one starring Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey. Horne and Ramey live their roles and bring an electrifying chemistry to their recording, the likes of which audiences have not seen before. They sing with passion and virtuosity. Furthermore, Kathleen Battle is in that recording in a minor role, singing with a plainly beautiful voice and no pretensions, and her voice is captured in her earliest stage of her career when she had not yet garnered the bad publicity as a temperamental and difficult-to-work-with diva. This recording is not that bad, but it sounds like the singers are too relaxed and don't provide the passion and bubbliness that Ramey/Horne/Battle give us on the other recording."
Interesante 'Italiana en Argel'
Annio | Spain | 10/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"CLAUDIO ABBADO firmó a finales de los 80 una interesante version de 'La Italiana en Argel', con un reparto encabezado por una AGNES BALTSA que demuestra que puede asumir el papel de Isabella con total facilidad, sin estar exenta de esa pizca de comicidad tan necesaria. RUGGERO RAIMONDI deslumbra con su Mustafa, una leccion de canto y actuacion absolutamente fantastica. Cumple con correccion FRANK LOPARDO, un Lindoro que no pasara a la historia. ENZO DARA merece mas la pena por comicidad que por medios vocales (la voz nunca ha sido bonita...) como Taddeo, y PATRIZIA PACE (Elvira), ALESSANDRO CORBELLI (Haly) y ANNA GONDA(Zulma) completan el reparto de forma notable.
La FILARMONICA DE VIENA rubrica una sobresaliente actuacion al mando de ABBADO"
Well-performed and technically almost impeccable - but a lit
G.D. | Norway | 09/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are several well-received versions of L'Italiana in the catalogue, and I shall not pretend to have heard all the relevant comparisons - it is a delightful work with many fine touches and numbers, but not really among Rossini's very best overall, at least in my view. That said, this is generally an excellent recording, with many impressive vocal contribution and good conducting and orchestral playing (I find the tempi very well judged, although I realize that many people think it's a little too fast) - but in the final verdict it seems to lack a little in humor and ends up sounding even a little detached.
Raimondi sings with the utmost technical confidence and knows how to make the best of his part, of course, and Baltsa is mostly impressive in terms of the character and color she brings to the role - but does perhaps not always make the most of the musical material available to her. Among the rest of the cast, Lopardo is the one who deserves special credit, with beautiful singing in a gracefully mellow, darkly hued voice, but sufficiently full of character and variety to make his parts among the virtues of the set.
The Vienna Philharmonic delivers some zestful and lively high-quality playing, and Abbado generally paces the score well - well-judged tempi and an exceptionally fine overture, but it does lack the sparkle and wit of, say, his Cenerentola recording (which must surely be the gem among his Rossini recordings). No serious complaints about the recording or presentation, and in the end this is a fine version but not a perfect one. Warmly recommended nonetheless."