An exciting discovery...
Roger H. Hess | Littleton, CO USA | 03/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is clearly an opera that deserves to be heard. Much of the music was retained in Rossini's Paris version, Le Siege de Corinthe, but this original version has more continuity. Repeated listenings reveal several motifs that occur in more than one number throughout the opera - though the function is purely musical, rather than dramatic. Furthermore, this recording gives Rossini's music an almost Beethovenian power at times, which can have quite a stirring effect. The cast does a noteworthy job of negotiating the cruel demands of Rossini's florid vocal lines. Pertusi is a very satisfying alternative to Ramey, with equal agility but more expression. His top range is particularly impressive, though the bottom is slightly weak. Gasdia's voice is not particularly interesting, but her expression easily makes up for it. Vargas is nothing less than luxury casting in the role of Paolo Erisso, while Scalchi blends well with the others in ensembles."
An excellent alternative
Roger H. Hess | 10/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I reviewed this same opera as recorded by June Anderson. In that review I mention the differences between this opera and the Paris rewrite, and the inherant difficulties one can experience trying to enjoy this opera if you are already familiar with the Sills recording of that opera (much of this one is retransplanted into that work but in far different dramatic context). I would have to say that this recording is a happy alternative to the recording with June Anderson. That is not because this one is so much better, to me they are both excellent and enjoyable, but they have different strengths. While the lead Bass, Soprano, and Contralto shone in that recording, and even though the tenor parts were wonderfully sung, they were less impressive (the June Anderson recording), in this recording all the men do a super job of this most difficult score. The female singers (one singing a woman, the other a male character) are where the opera recording lets us down. Now, don't think you are hearing a bad performance, you aren't. The singing is masterful. The problem is these singers, though excellent technically, have no personality. They are just serviceable singers and nothing more. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we took the best of the best recordings of a work, and mixed them all together. If we could take the female singers of the other recording and mix them with the men of this recording I just wonder what we would get. There is an energy in this recording which is lacking at times in the other. Also, this recording causes the work to hold together more completely than the other. In the June Anderson recording, one is amazed by the parts that make up the whole, while in this one you are more amazed by the whole. This recording, and I attribute that to the singers, and the conductor, seems to gel, and it moves us forward into the drama of the work (which is a real accomplishment in a work that is so vocally heavy one can often forget you are even experiencing a story at all). The sound of the recording is very exciting, and that is how Rossini should sound. Following with the score, I did notice a touch more embellishments than in the other recording, but don't expect anything you are going to hear in the L'assedio recording with Sills. I just warn listeners of that fact, for often the embellishments are looked for, and expected. This opera is well worth the listen, and the price (even though it is not cheap). Rossini did have more continuity in this version of the opera than in the Paris rewrite, though the Paris rewrite is far more dramatic. I really don't think anyone will be disappointed in this opera for it is wonderfully exciting. The only problem, as I said in my other review, is forgetting what we are used to hearing in the Sills recording of L'assedio so we can judge this work on its own merits."