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The Italian Girl in Algiers -
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'Its enchantments are as fresh as ever ...'

Gioachino Rossini: l'Italiana in Algeri. © 1982/2004 Fonit Cetra

Italian girls may not be venturing much to Algiers at the moment; but any country of whatever religion can do with a dose of this Isabella's common-sense and resource. Shipwreck does not make her turn a hair, and she is ready at once for whatever vocal challenge Rossini cares to throw at her [listen -- CD 1 track 7, 4:39-5:45].

Twenty years ago I heard this recording in its earlier incarnation and was instantly won over by a standard of singing and playing under Gabriele Ferro that rarely keeps a smile off the face. Its enchantments are as fresh as ever, and the 'original instruments' of the Capella Coloniensis are not so original as to be be anything but supremely musical by any criteria. Rossini is on top form from the word go in this work, crafting at twenty-one an overture of delicious frivolity and zest [listen -- CD 1 track 1, 2:09-3:17].

The first utterance of the choral eunuchs is both comforting and comfortable, the former because they are trying to cheer up the rejected wife of the Bey by telling her that 'woman was for grief intended', the latter for the happy notion of the young Rossini that they should be resexed as tenors and basses [listen -- CD 1 track 2, 0:00-1:07].

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Copyright © 9 May 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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