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Janos Gardonyi
The WholeNote, April 2018

This top-quality recording has some spectacular voices, mainly tenors (of whom Rossini had an abundant supply), with the two rival lovers Maxim Mironov (Ricciardo) and Randall Bills (Agorante) outdoing each other in vocal acrobatics. Of the ladies, Alessandra Marianelli has the Colbran role as Zoriade, the damsel in distress, and Silvia Beltrami (mezzo-soprano) is the jealous queen; both gorgeous voices. © 2018 The WholeNote Read complete review

Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, April 2018

Though not one of Rossini’s greatest operas, it still has a lot to offer. The singing on this issue is generally good and Maxim Mironov adds another great achievement to his CV as recording artist. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Michael Johnson, March 2018

José Miguel Pérez-Sierra moves things along adroitly and the soloists give full satisfaction. There is a good contrast between the two lead tenors, with Maxim Mironov (Ricciardo) having a more boyish sound than Randall Bills. Alessandra Marianelli delights as Zoraide (a role created by/for Isabella Colbran, who went from being Barbaia’s mistress to Rossini’s wife—now that could be an opera.) Mezzo-soprano Silvia Beltrami also excels as the distraught wife, Zomira. © 2018 Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, March 2018

This recording of Rossini’s seldom performed opera Ricciardo e Zoraide has plenty of atmosphere, and, with good singers and a dedicated conducting from José Miguel Perez Sierra, it is a delectable performance. © 2018 Pizzicato

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2018

Though Rossini’s dramatic historical opera, Ricciardo e Zoraide enjoyed an early success after its premiere in 1818, its complex plot soon took it from the repertoire. Very briefly it relates Agorante, King of Nubia, who has conquered the Asian prince, Ircano, and has taken his daughter, Zoraide, captive and aims to instate her as his Queen, and to rid himself of Zomira. Ricciardo, in love with Zoraide, disguises himself as an African and follows her to initiate a rescue, while Zomira plots revenge against Agorante. The King in turn tells Ircano he will spare his life if Zoraide will give herself to him. At that moment Ernesto and his army arrive and defeat Agorante, Ricciardo is reunited with Zoraide, and in appeasement spares the lives of Agorante and Zomira. It takes two and three quarter hours of vintage Rossini to arrive at that point, the large cast required, including parts for four tenors—that of Agorante needing one who is able to go prodigiously high—such demands all contributing to its rare appearance in modern times. That it now resurfaces is due to the Rossini in Wildbad Festival in conjunction with the South West German Radio who are responsible for this recording. Avoiding the costs of staging the complex two-act score, it was given in concert performances, and that makes it less problematic in microphone placement and avoids stage noises. That it also offers a well balanced orchestral sound is immediately evident in the long opening sinfonia which extends to almost nine minutes, and has a long and cruelly exposed horn solo, followed by one that equally challenges the solo flute. Then Rossini asks the tenor taking Agorante to sing a long and highly demanding aria while his voice is still ‘cold’, and his female roles are no less a challenge in the complex interweaving of voices through the long duet for Zorima and Zoraide in the opening act. Maybe this is not Rossini’s most memorable music, but it often offers white-heat drama and virtuoso singing, most of the present cast rising to the occasion with Randall Bills as Agorante fearlessly going on high, while the same goes for Maxim Mironov as Ricciardo, though his intonation is just a little suspect. Of the female singers—there are also three sopranos—I particularly enjoy the young Italian-born Alessandra Marianelli in the part of Zoraide, a role that is much more extensive than the story would suggest. For my taste the vibrato of the mezzo, Silvia Beltrami, as Zomira, is far too wide, but the chorus from Poznan sing with their customary enthusiasm and help to stoke-up a thrilling conclusion to the first act. The musicians from Brno bring distinction to the performance, while the Spanish-born conductor, José Miguel Pérez-Sierra, keeps the action moving with urgency. The length of the opera takes it well over the length of two discs, but while it would have made for an exceptional short second disc, it was possible to have had the whole of the second act on one disc. Sadly the recording includes intrusive applause that breaks continuity. You can access the libretto on Naxos website, but there are no translations. It has been recorded before, but as a rarity, and at budget price, do snap it up. © 2018 David’s Review Corner

Records International, February 2018

Based on an epic poem by Niccolo Forteguerri and set in the times of the Crusades, this 1818 work deals with infatuations and jealousy, imprisonment and murderous plots, concluding with a gallant rescue and a benevolent outcome. A true bel canto feast in only its second-ever recording (Opera Rara in 1995 although there was also a video release on Bel Canto Society in 1990). … © 2018 Records International

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