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Italian composers Gioachino Rossini and Francesco Morlacchi began work on their respective operas at the same time, in 1822. Taken together, they afford a fascinating snapshot of the dynamics of opera development in the first half of the 19th century. Both composers attempted reconciliation of the differing Italian and German perspectives on opera that engaged European opinion at the time, and both works were soon revised: Morlacchi produced a Dresden version of Tebaldo e Isolina in 1825; Rossini delivered a Paris version of Zelmira the following year, which is the version used on this new release.

Although Morlacchi is virtually forgotten as a composer today, his distinguished romantic melodrama, based on the famous story of Romeo and Juliet, was seen by contemporary critics as a complement to Rossini’s Zelmira.

ROSSINI, G.: Zelmira [Opera]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola

Silvia Dalla Benetta, Soprano • Marina Comparato, Mezzo-soprano
Joshua Stewart & Mert Süngü, Tenors
Federico Sacchi & Luca Dall’Amico, Basses
Górecki Chamber Choir, Kraków • Virtuosi Brunensis
Gianluigi Gelmetti

Zelmira was the last opera Rossini wrote for Naples, knowing it would also be his calling card to Vienna where he had been assured performances. Keen to reconcile the alleged incompatibility between ‘Italian’ melody and ‘German’ harmony, Rossini employed exciting and daring harmonies and a raft of dazzling orchestral effects in this tragedy in which a daughter saves her father, the king, and her son, from usurpers to the throne. The opera was acclaimed wherever it was heard, and this recording presents the revised and triumphant Paris version.

Listen to an extract from Zelmira Act I Scene 5:
Cara! deh attendimi!
MORLACCHI, F.: Tebaldo e Isolina [Opera] (1825 Dresden version)
Francesco MORLACCHI (1784–1841)
Tebaldo e Isolina
Libretto by Gaetano Rossi

Sandra Pastrana and Annalisa D’Agosto, Sopranos
Laura Polverelli, Mezzo-soprano • Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani
and Gheorghe Vlad, Tenors • Raúl Baglietto, Bass-baritone
Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań • Virtuosi Brunensis
Antonino Fogliani

Francesco Morlacchi was a native of Perugia, but early success led him to become music director of the Dresden Opera where he remained for the rest of his life despite having an opportunity to succeed Rossini in Naples in 1822. He did make tours to Italy however, and Tebaldo e Isolina received its triumphant premiere in Venice, becoming the most successful of all his operas. Morlacchi’s gifts as a lyricist and for characterisation are heard here at their best, with showpiece arias and duets in a version of the Romeo and Juliet story that ends in happiness and the victory of reason over vengeance.

Listen to an extract from Tebaldo e Isolina Act II Scene 8:
La dolce immagine
A selection from Naxos' 2019 audio and audiovisual releases of Italian opera
Il segreto di Susanna
Serenade for Strings

Howarth • Òdena
Oviedo Filarmonía • Haider
‘This is a lovely disc with two
first-rate performances of works by
a gifted composer, and one with
a unique, compelling voice. Recommended.’
Eduardo e Cristina

Polverelli • Benetta • Tarver
Xu • Anderzhanov •
Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań
Virtuosi Brunensis • Gelmetti
‘It’s good to have an experienced Rossinian, Gianluigi Gelmetti, in charge of the musical proceedings, and there are two excellent lead singers: Kenneth Tarver as the Swedish king and mezzo-soprano Laura Polverelli in the travesti role of his unwanted son-in-law.’

Černoch • Dan • Sgura
Kaiser • Tsanga • Schweinester
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Wiener Symphoniker • Carignani
‘Conductor Paolo Carignani brings exactly the right sense of verve and drama to the score, providing the best argument possible for reviving this opera.’
MusicWeb International
I puritani

Durlovski • Barbera • Myshketa
Palka • Haller
Staatsopernchor Stuttgart
Staatsorchester Stuttgart
Benzi, Conductor
Wieler and Morabito, Stage Directors
‘It is a testament to the depth of talent in Stuttgart’s ensemble that its company bass Adam Palka can make such a good fist of Giorgio, Elvira’s dominant confidant. Palka ... sings with focus and nobility and, partnered by Myshketa, that barnstorming duet ‘Suoni la tromba’ still sparks shivers.’
Also available in Blu-ray Audio (NBD0093V)
Il barbiere di Siviglia

Sempey • Trottmann • Angelini
Káán • Gleadow • Vestri
Le Cercle de l'Harmonie • Unikanti
Rhorer, Conductor
Pelly, Stage Director
‘My, what skills are on display in every department of this astonishing production!’
Also available in Blu-ray Audio (NBD0065V)
Didone abbandonata

Miškūnaitė • Wundsam • Allemano
Di Bianco • Godoy • Renard
Academia Montis Regalis
Coro Maghini
De Marchi, Conductor
Flimm, Stage Director
‘The singing is also impressive throughout, with a superb performance in particular from mezzo-soprano Katrin Wundsam in the trouser role of Aeneas, demonstrating impeccable control over the complete range with dramatic swoops from high to low. Her Act II rondò is just stunning.’
Also available in Blu-ray Audio (NBD0095V)
Segment Catalogue – Italian opera. Staged treasures.
Naxos and its affiliated labels have an extensive catalogue of Italian operas. To download the full list of over 500 titles, please click here.

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