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Armida is one of Rossini's greatest operas. This work contains some of the composer's most original and inimitable music, with unusual combinations of instruments and some beautiful extended solos for cello and violin. Inspiration may have been assisted by Rossini's romantic involvement with the soprano Isabella Colbran, a major star of the time and the first to perform the title role.
Top customer reviews
Good booklet, with libretto and articles, this is one of the recordings people who loves Rossini must have, cosidering the almost whole rossinian cast. I never listened other version, but I know that the Serafin to Callas jewel, has its used cuts.
Armida is a rather peculiar opera, with one soprano role, six tenor roles and two bass roles. The tenors can to a large extent be doubled as can the bass roles, the lack of real dramatic coherence being indicated by the way in which so many of the characters do not interact with each other.
One of the main strengths of this recording is the conducting by Claudio Scimone of a first-class and sympathetic orchestra and a great chorus. As Gatti's unfortunate performance demonstrates, this work needs solid direction to make it at all coherent and this Scimone provides. The tenors produce some very fine singing indeed and they have sufficiently distinctive voices to help keep the drama alive in aural form alone. Chris Merritt in the principal male role gives a well-balanced and satisfying rendition. Bruce Ford and William Matteuzzi, each of whom sings two roles, also do very well; indeed, I can't remember hearing a better performance by Bruce Ford.
The central figure in the opera is Armida herself. Only here is there real competition from the alternative set. I actually prefer Cecilia Gasdia's interpretation, partly because Flemming, though more spectacular, is poorly recorded, but many would find Flemming preferable.
This set only provides the libretto in Italian only, while the rival does have translations into English, German and French.
Overall, however, there is no real competition to this set. It is not the best Rossini, but it does provide an enjoyable, well executed work.