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Rossini - Tancredi


Argirio – Raul Gimenez

Tancredi – Daniela Barcellona

Orbazzone – Marco Spetti

Amenaide – Darina Takova

Isaura – Barbara Di Castri

Ruggiero – Nicola Marchesini


Conductor – Riccardo Frizza

Stage Director, Sets & Costumes – Pier Luigi Pizzi

Lighting Design – Sergio Rossi

TV Director – Andrea Bevilacqa


TDK – DVWW-OPTANC (Recorded at the Teatro Comunale, Firenze, 21 October 2005)

1 DVD – 155 minutes


Rossini's serious operas have always seemed to be in danger of falling by the wayside of neglect, a fate which is certainly undeserved by Tancredi, his first major work in this genre, which is bursting with wonderful music.

The plot, from Voltaire's play is as strong as many that Verdi used with success, but the rather perverse allocation of voice types to characters seems to throw it somewhat out of kilter . The soprano heroine is fine, the leading tenor has to content himself with the unglamorous lot of appearing as her middle aged father, and a mezzo has the daunting task of portraying the swashbuckling romantic hero of the title role. The rival suitor and
villain of the piece is appropriately enough a bass, but he barely survives into the second act – particularly sad in this case as Marci Spetti is menacingly good looking and shades his voice with dark malevolence.


Daniela Barcelona (Tancredi) has all the necessary vocal armoury at her disposal, and her account of the well known Di tanti palpiti is copybook. Bulgarian soprano Darina Takova impressed me some years ago when appearing in London in Le Coq d'Or (ROH), and she is ideally cast as Amenaide. Her voice sails up to the top of the register and her long prison scene is filled with emotion as she sings the despairing No, che il morir non e. Raul Giminez brings dignity to the role of Argirio, and sings with intelligent restraint.


This opera has some of Rossini's best duets, ranging from the triumphal Ecco le trombe which leads into the duel, to a whole series of poignant exchanges between the lovers. Act I ends in glorious turmoil combining sextet and chorus in a splendid ensemble which is entirely in the spirit of similar pieces in La Cenerentola and the Barber.


Pier Luigi Pizzi's sets and costumes are stylish with simple, clean neoclassical lines. I was less impressed with his direction which involves a number of spurious “classical” gestures and the chorus (who sing superbly) seem frequently to be left to their own devices.


The orchestra sound as though they are enjoying themselves under the baton of Riccardo Frizza, though just occasionally his tempi are a little exaggerated for my taste.


Rossini prepared alternative endings, a happy one more popular in his lifetime, and a tragic one (true to Voltaire's intention) which is now normally preferred, and used here.


Serena Fenwick



Photo credit Archivio Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, foto New Press Photo Firenze