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Maometto II Box set

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, November 16, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Rossini’s opera Maometto II is probably better known in its French adaptation as Le siège de Corinthe. It is a tragic story of love and betrayal, in which the Venetian Anna Erisso falls in love with a man she supposes to be an ally of her father, but who is in fact the Turkish Sultan Mehmed II in disguise. In this version, revised for Venice in 1822, Rossini adapted the opera to the more conventional tastes of the Venetian public, who demanded a happy ending. The tragic suicide of Anna is replaced by the victory of the Venetians over the forces of the Sultan, and she survives to marry her father’s lieutenant, who is loyal to her father and country.

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This is the first recording of Rossini's 1822 revision for Venice of his 1820 Maometto II. Because the Venetians demanded happy endings and loved crescendi, Rossini re-worked many numbers--instead of a suicide, the opera ends with a happy aria, and it's "Tanti affetti," from his own La donna del lago! The performance here is quite good, with orchestra and chorus well-drilled and energetic under Brad Cohen, and the soloists range from excellent--the bass Dennis Sedov in the title role, mezzo Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade in the colorful, wide-ranging role of Anna--to good (Anna-Rita Gemmabella in the trouser role of Calbo, Antonio de Gobbi as the Venetian General Condulmiero) to strained (tenor Massimiliano Barbolini). The action moves naturally (the recording is from a series of live performances), and the cast is thoroughly involved. There are three other recordings of this work (two with Samuel Ramey, sopranos Cecilia Gasdia or June Anderson, tenors Ramon Vargas or Bruce Ford) which are better sung, but this one is not only unique as to the edition used--it's also a bargain. Not to sell it short, but the competition is stiff. --Robert Levine
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Product Details

  • Performer: Denis Sedov, Anna Rita Gemmabella, Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade, Antonio de Gobbi, Massimiliano Barbolini, et al.
  • Orchestra: Czech Chamber Soloists
  • Conductor: Brad Cohen
  • Composer: Gioachino Rossini
  • Audio CD (November 16, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Naxos Opera
  • ASIN: B00030B9FM
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,316 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 8, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Naxos claims this is a first recording. And indeed it is, in a sense. Many Rossinians, though, remember a blockbuster recording of 'Maometto Secondo' issued in 1983 on Philips (and now available at mid-price and available here at Amazon) with a star-studded cast: Philip Ramey as Maometto, June Anderson as Anna, Margarita Zimmermann as Calbo, with the Philharmonia under Claudio Scimone. The thing that makes this recording a world première is that it is a performance of a revision that Rossini made for the less sophisticated Venice opera after its première in the house for which it was written. the San Carlo in Naples. As a consequence some of the more complicated numbers are cut; I estimate the new version is about twenty minutes shorter than the original.

This is a live recording of what I take to be a concert performance. Applause is inobtrusive and there are no stage noises. It took place at the Bad Wildbad Festival, which presents many Rossini operas (and presented a similarly titled but completely different 'Maometto' by Peter von Winter in the same season as this performance; it has been issued on Marco Polo) and features young and upcoming singers, a Czech orchestra and chorus, all under the direction of an Australian conductor, Brad Cohen.

The plot needn't concern us here, but there is a very detailed synopsis in the CD booklet and one can access the Italian libretto (without an English translation) online at a Naxos site given in the booklet.

The cast of singers is quite a mixed bag. The part of Erisso is sung by a dry-voiced tenor who frankly detracts from the proceedings; his coloratura is, ahem, pretty basic, but he does contribute nicely in the ensembles.
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Format: Audio CD
I prefer the old recording as I think there is more depth in the cast and, of course, the Philharmonia orchestra is first rate. Sam Ramey in his prime was something else, the first bass I had ever heard who could actually sing all the notes.
If you want to see this wonderful underrated Rossini, come to the Santa Fe Opera summer of 2012 where they will be presenting the new critical edition of Maometto II with Luca Pisaroni.
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Format: Audio CD
I hesitated to purchase this set, even at its fantastic bargain price, as I already had the fantastic Philips set with Zimmermann, Ramey and Anderson and its highlight, the spectacular Act Three trio, is missing from this version, an adaptation Rossini made for Venice which replaces the tragic ending with a happy one. How pleased was I, then, when I bought it anyway and discovered that the replacement finale is an absolute corker featuring a dazzling star turn from Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade. I've never heard of her before but when it comes to vocal gymnastics she's nearly as good as me. And their Maometto also has a wonderful instrument which quite frankly I wouldn't mind getting my hands on as I'm hoping to mount Maometto at the South Hobart Light Opera Company in the near future. Roles like Anna are as rare as hen's teeth for singers like me and Islam-Ali_Zade whose forte is primarily Wagnerian coloratura so a part like this is not to be sniffed at. If I could level one criticism however, I would have liked to have heard a few more bangs on the tambourine from this soprano during the climaxes which is something I always do to keep audiences riveted - when high kicks are not appropriate. Still, with roulades like this, some extra flash is only a mtter of time. Well done!
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