"The darkly resonant basso cantante of Samuel Ramey and his considerable powers of interpretation are the joys of this three-CD album. According to Ramey himself, the title role of "Maometto Secondo" is the most difficult part he has sung to date, so this 1983 Philips recording with Rossini expert Claudio Scimone conducting is a must-have for Ramey fans. I believe it's the only recording of this great bass singing his most demanding role.
When the eponymous Turkish sultan comes onstage with his victorious troops for the first time in Act One, he immediately launches into his florid cavatina, 'Sorgete, sorgete' where he acknowledges the obeisance of his followers--think of Mehmet II as the Muslim Alexander the Great. In this particular opera, he is engaged in capturing the Venetian colony of Negroponte in Greece. His most famous conquest, for us Christians at least, was Constantinople.
In Rossini's version, Mehmet II fails to conquer the Venetian colony because Anna, the woman with whom he fell in love while he was disguised as the student, Uberto, betrays him. In order to save her father, the governor of Negroponte and her fiancé, Calbo, Anna lets herself be abducted by the Turkish conqueror. But after an aria and duet, and before he can proceed with his love-making, Mehmet II has to trot off to another battle. Anna obtains his imperial seal of authority, which allows her people to trick and drive off the Sultan and his army. In her mother's burial vault, Anna is married to Calbo (powerfully sung by mezzo-soprano, Margarita Zimmermann) by her father, and when the Sultan comes looking for revenge, she admits her deception and after the thrilling 'Madre, a te,' stabs herself in the heart.
As you might guess from the plot, the soprano really gets to chew up the stage in this opera, and June Anderson sings a competent, though stressed Anna. "
A Rossini Grand Feast For Voices: Another Hit !!
E. A. Lovitt | 02/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was only after hearing Rossini's Viaggio A Reims and Maometto Secondo on this recording that I became a fan of the lost art of Rossini opera. It is sad that today the only popular and performed Rossini work is Barber of Seville. A perennial classic, it is nothing like say this opera, about the grand, victorious Muslim conqueror Maometto (Mohameed in Italian) sung by the greatest bass-baritone of our time Samuel Ramey. And look at the extensive cast -June Anderson as Anna Erisso, Margarita Zimmermann as Calbo, Ernesto Palacio as Paolo Erisso Laurence Dale [Condulmiero] Laurence Dale [Selimo]. The Ambrosia Opera Chorus can always be counted on for excellent work and the conductor has enough Italian in him to understand Rossini.
This recording is a vocal feast of voices. Samuel Ramey and June Anderson have glorious voices and sing their roles with enough mastership of the repertoire to make the opera exciting and beautiful. All fans of this type of singing, which is a dead art, and fans of Samuel Ramey will eat it up. This vehicle is a great one for Ramey. It allowed him to challenge himself as a bass-baritone, it showcases all aspects of his singing. He has a rich, dark, textured and florid singing voice, while still maintaining a vigorous masculinity and dark edge. Before he made it big in his famous Devil personaee, he was the greatest Rossini baritone, a fact that seems to have faded. This role he considered his best and most challenging. June Anderson may ocassionally sound strained, but that's because the part is heavy and taxing, with much fioritura to boot. I also agree with the other critic that this role would have suited Beverly Sills, but perhaps this would have been too much for her as well. It is vehicle for a true Rossini soprano with both lyric, coloratura and even mezzo qualities. Mezzo soprano Margarita Zimmerman makes a terrific account of Calbo, and one would only imagine what Marilyn Horne could have done with the part. The music is grand, and full of vertiginous scales up and down the staff. There is even an old-school charm about this piece, as if the singers were from an even older period. Singinng Rossini, particularly this type of opera, is not easy and the singers should be credited for their outstanding abilities to stand there and sing this difficult music. If only I had been around to see Samuel Ramey sing this role!!!! "
John Cragg | Delta(greater Vancouver), B.C Canada | 02/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maometto II is an opera seria composed in 1820 for Naples, where it flopped. It was revised for subsequent more successful productions in the next couple of years, and most of it was used for Le Siege de Corinthe in 1826. It contains a great deal of ebulient, marvellous music, and as usual in Rossini's peculiar esthetic the nature of music is not all that closely tied to the content of the libretto. It serves as a great show-case for really accomplised bel canto singers, and here it receives a wonderful production.
Principal among the strengths of this recording are the enthusiastic and beautiful singing of Samuel Ramey in the title role and the show-stealing performance of June Anderson, but the rest of the cast are well up to their standards. Claudio Scimone makes an exciting and coherent overall production, leading the Philharmonia orchestra -- possibly the best of the London Orchestras at the time -- and the solid Ambrosian Chorus in a well balanced performance that matches the quality of the singing.
The notes in this set are minimal -- giving the cast, the track listing and a synopsis, keyed to the track listing. There is no libretto, or indication of which version is recorded. With Rossini it matters less than with many other opera composers that you are not able to make out the words or understand them, but I'm sure the lebretto must have been available and translated when the 1983 recording was first issed by Phillips. This lack of information is the one black spot in an otherwise first class, exciting set."
This is an excellent recording................
Sam | Seahurst, Washington | 09/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Claudio Scimone's account of Maometto II has Samuel Ramey magnificently focusing the whole story in his portrait of the Muslim invader in love with the heroine. The other singing is less sharply characterized but is generally stylish, with Margarita zimmermann in the travesty role of Calbo and June Anderson singing sweetly as Anna. Laurence Dale is excellent in two smaller roles, while Ernesto Palacio mars some fresh-tones singing with his intrusive aitches."