Adelaide di Borgogna

Adelaide: R. Frisani
Adelberto: J.D. Fl˛rez
Iroldo: M. Dalena
Berengario: M. Lippi
Orchestra Sinfonica and Coro di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor: A. Zedda

Milano, Auditorium

What should have been a complete concert performance of Rossini rarity Adelaide di Borgogna turned into a program of excerpts that was augmented by arias from five other of his operas with orchestra. Indisposition on the part of up-and-coming Daniela Barcellona necessitated the change. She would have made a superb addition to this cast in the trouser role of Ottone, but it is understandable that no one would be able to tackle that florid part on short notice, if a pirate recording of the work from three decades ago is any guide. Unfortunately the excerpts that Alberto Zedda could present did not give an adequate idea of the opera, since the finales of both acts had to be dropped as well as critical developments in the story. What was presented became a kind of tease, although the program offered the complete libretto with comprehensive program notes.

The plot concerns medieval-era Italian Queen Adelaide who is besieged by warlord Berengario. To dodge her unwanted suitor Adelberto, Adelaide summons German emperor Ottone, whom she plans to marry instead. After some hostage taking and exchanges, she can share in Ottone’s military triumph over her rival. As in most of Rossini’s works, ensembles predominate over solo moments, while at this performance arias often with chorus outnumbered duets. Adelaide spent most of the time fighting with erstwhile fiancÚ Adelberto. The prelude and two choruses rounded out the presentation.

On the vocal side, there were no disappointments. Soprano Rosita Frisani gave an earnest portrayal of the title role of Adelaide; since she had memorized her part, she was communicative and completely involved. Bass Marcello Lippi brought his extensive stage experience to make the most of an abbreviated Berengario, while Maurizio Dalena rounded out the cast as Iroldo. Accolades went primarily to Juan Diego Fl˛rez, who showed himself to be a worthy heir to compatriot Luigi Alva’s distinguished Rossinian tenor. It will be a pleasure to follow this young artist as his voice acquires more colors and shadings and he develops a more relaxed concert manner.

The young players of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano seemed more at ease with the arias from other Rossini operas in the second half of the concert, perhaps because the orchestral parts were more familiar. Ms. Frisani offered a touching French rendition of Mathilde’s aria from Guillaume Tell, followed by an unusually emotional "Bel raggio" from Semiramide when sentiment pervaded even the coloratura sections. Daring diminuendos and interesting variations further characterized this selection—too bad that the women’s chorus did not stay to enhance it. Reprising his recent Barcelona appearance in the role of the PodestÓ in La gazza ladra, Marcello Lippi shined in the patter section of "Il mio piano Ŕ preparato". Juan Diego Fl˛rez closed the program with Count Almaviva’s "Cessa di pi¨ resistere", although contrasting colors for the two verses would have made the aria even more spectacular. Before that he gave an ideal rendition of Lindoro’s entrance aria from L’Italiana in Algeri, with impeccable diction and superb incorporation of head register into his tones.

Under Alberto Zedda, Rossini’s characteristic orchestration received a distinctive presentation, especially by the woodwinds. The chorus under Romano Gandolfi made the most of their brief sections. Acoustics at the newly inaugurated Auditorium di Milano are even better than have been reported. The sound is very live, while a combination of light wood for the stage and deep red velvet plus for the seats effectively links new and old in Milan’s youngest hall.

David Lipfert

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