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Penguin Guide, January 2009

L’equivoco stravagante (‘The Bizarre Deception’), is one of Rossini’s earliest operas, written when he was only 19. Already the Rossini fingerprints are firmly in place, with the music regularly sparkling from the Overture, with its brilliant horn triplets, onwards. The story of this drama giocoso involves a scheming servant, Frontino, who deceives the stupid suitor, Buralichio, into believing that the girl he is wooing, the heroine, Ernestina, is in fact male and whose nouveau riche father, Gamberotto, has had ‘him’ castrated so that he could become a high-earning opera-singer. The complications are many, until Ernestina is safely united with Ermanno, the impecunious tutor whom she loves. After three performances in 1811 the piece was banned for being too licentious. Rossini cut his losses, using material from it in his subsequent operas. It makes an attractive rarity, generally well sung and very well conducted in this live recording by the Rossini scholar Alberto Zedda—if unhelpfully punctuated by tepid applause.

Fred Cohn
Opera News, December 2002

"In L'Equivoco Stravagante, his first evening-length opera buffa, Rossini emerges full-grown, like Athena from the head of Zeus. The opera is unmistakably the work of the composer of II Barbiere di Siviglia.

Naxos's recording makes an excellent case for the opera. The live-performance provenance is a definite plus: for once the applause at the end of numbers seems less like an intrusion than like an intrinsic component of the work itself. Veteran Rossini conductor and scholar Alberto Zedda leads a buoyant performance, in which the warm, intimate acoustic flatters his excellent Czech players. The cast is accomplished...with incisive diction and alert musicality. The one standout is the recording's Ernestina, the young Bulgarian mezzo Petia Petrova. She's a lively, vivid vocal presence, with the technique to sail through the virtuoso passagework."

Robert Baxter
Courier-Post, October 2002

"Rossini specialist Alberto Zedda leads a buoyant performance. He summons superb playing and singing from the Czech Chamber Chorus and Czech Chamber Soloists. Petia Petrova and Dario Schmunck make an appealing pair of lovers. They shine in their solos and join the rest of the cast in an exhilarating account of the quintet that caps the second act."

Robert Croan
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 2002

"The singers are good, not only in their vocal dexterity and grasp of the style, but also in characterization . The music sparkles under Zedda as conductor, and the ensemble work is first-rate."

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