Outstanding Rossini from Elder & Opera Rara

Rossini: Semiramide

Albina Shagimuratova (Semiramide), Daniela Barcellona (Arsace), Mirco Palazzi (Assur), Barry Banks (Idreno), Gianluca Buratto (Oroe), Susana Gaspar (Azema), David Butt Philip (Mitrane), James Platt (L’ombra di Nino), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment & Opera Rara Chorus, Sir Mark Elder (conductor)

Many readers will be familiar with the overture to Semiramide but I wonder what proportion have experienced the opera? What we have here is the full opera, lasting almost four hours, in a very fine studio recording.

Sir Mark Elder has sought to deliver a performance of this work as it might have been heard in Venice back in 1823. Thus this recording highlights the music’s debt to the great opera composers of the baroque period rather than illuminating the way in which it points forwards to the great operas of Verdi.

Albina Shagimuratova is outstanding, as as the Babylonian queen who falls in love with her own estranged son, as are the other principals. Indeed every one of the soloists contributes well to the overall performance and the period instruments of the OAE provide both fine texture and great clarity in this exemplary recording. Not since I first encountered Richard Bonynge’s recording starring Dame Joan Sutherland, with the London Symphony Orchestra have I been so thrilled by a recording of Rossini’s final Italian opera.

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