Sunday, 7 December 2008

210. Gioachino Rossini - L'Italiana in Algeri (1813)


Title: L'italiana in Algeri
Performers: Jennifer Lamore, Raul Gimenez, John del Carlo, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne
Director: Jesus Lopes-Cobos
Year: 1997
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes


Another Rossini opera, this one more in the tradition of opera buffa than seria, and it ends up being a particularly silly opera, in good Rossini style. The plot is pretty silly to the point of incredibly kitsch, peppered with xenophobia and Italian nationalism.

Still, it is quite entertaining, the music is at times pretty great, although you can hear Rossini recycling himself again and again and at times even borrowing from Mozart with whose
Die Entf├╝hrung aus dem Serail this opera shares great plot and musical similarities. Actually Mozart's opera is smarter, depicts foreigners much more kindly and is of course more original.

In the end it is very enjoyable, however. I am not sure I could call it great art, but it is catchy, funny at times and very immature in its humour. At times it seems like it was written by a prepubescent boy, particularly the whole Pappataci scene. Still, it entertains.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Rossini composed L'Italiana in Algeri when he was 21. The opera was composed in either 18 or 27 days, depending on which source one believes (Rossini, not surprisingly, pegged it at 18). It was a notable success and he made progressive changes to the work for later performances in Vicenza, Milan and Naples, during the following two years. The opera is notable for Rossini's mixing of opera seria style in opera buffa. The overture is widely recorded and performed today, known for its distinct opening of slow, quiet pizzicato basses, leading to a sudden loud burst of sound from the full orchestra. This "surprise" hearkens an early admiration for Joseph Haydn, whose Symphony No. 94 in G major "The Surprise Symphony" is so named for the same shocking, semi-comic affect.

The very silly, albeit musically impressive end of the first act:

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