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CD Feature/ Rossini: "La Cenerentola"

img  Tobias

It is hard to imagine that Rossini was once seriously out of grace with the critics and the curators, as the interesting liner notes to this double disc release inform us. What would be practically impossible, though, would be the idea of the great Italian composer loosing the love of those he explicitely wrote for – opera audiences worldwide. Just like the name of Beethoven has turned into a synonym for the Gesamtkunstwerk and for absolute art, Rossini is not just an operatic composer – he is opera. As such, “La Cenerentola” may not be his most popular piece, but epitomises everything you may like or dislike about classical stage productions.

From the grand and energetic overture to the majestic finale, this is a work which will give you every cliché in the world and make you feel good about it. In absolute contrast to his friend and partner for endless and inspirational debates Richard Wagner, you do not need to work on liking Rossini operas. Quite on the contrary, every note of “La Cenerentola” invites you to whistle along to it, every melody sounds like an old and welcome friend and each chord progression is as warm and familiar as hot milk and coockies at your grandma’s house. It is an absolute riddle to me, why it has taken so long for this firework of themes to explode on a worldwide scene. The emphatic and irresistible “No, no, no, no: non v’e” is a magnetic and overwhelming opener, which deserves a place next to the usual favourites on your supermarket’s copy of “Greatest Opera Volume 1” and there is plenty of equally seductive material to follow up on that. In contrast to other “re-discoveries”, “La Cenerentola” is not just a sidework or a small-scale version of Rossini’s vision, but actually a mighty work with plenty alomost deafening tutti which will have your pulse raging while bringing a smile to your face. Of course, the breathtaking perfomance of the “Chor der Staatsoper Berlin” and the same city’s Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester play an important part in the overall effect, as does the precise leadership of conductor Piero Bellugi, who loves to linger in the joyous or tragic moods of each chord and stages the work as what it was set out to be: A spectacle to be enjoyed, not an intellectual challenge to be met. 

As we were kindly informed by one of our readers, Joyce Di Donato has been performing “La Cenerentola” in the States and this must be regarded as a belated but highly welcome acknowledgment of the mainstream potential of this former blockbuster. On record, however, this ARTS release must seem like something as a reference recording. While it may have been taped all the way back in 1975, it epitomises everything you may like or dislike about classical stage productions – and that is exactly what Rossini was all about.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: ARTS Music

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