The Rossini Festival in Pesaro: Part II
The ensemble opera, performing on the Adriatic, certainly deserves more recognition. A short one-act opera, Adelina, by Pietro Generali, a forgotten contemporary of Rossini was staged. The simple plot revolves round a young girl who had a child out of wedlock, alienates her father and is eventually reunited with him when her lover returns from army service. Despite the simple-low budget staging, the opera was well sung by accomplished soloists, most notably the alluring and ardent soprano Cinzia Forte in the title role who floated her pianissimo lines in the great Italian tradition.
Performances of Il Viaggio A Reims, an opera composed in honor of the coronation of Charles X, followed. It relates how an international assortment of visitors from all over Europe plan to travel to Reims to attend the coronation of Charles X but are stranded at an inn for lack of transportation and host their own celebration in the king's honor. The opera is notoriously difficult to cast since it calls for at least 9 accomplished soloists, something few opera houses can afford. Alternatively, it can be performed by young enthusiastic singers at the start of their careers. Under these circumstances, the expectations of the audience are not high.
Pesaro opted for this latter route, featuring it as part of the Pesaro youth festival. The delightful production by Emilio Sagi was set in a spa. Lo and behold, these passionate and eager young singers gave their all resulting in a most satisfying and enjoyable performance. Two of the soloists in particular, soprano Eunshil Kim in the role of the flighty Contessa di Folleville and bass Wojciech Adalbert Gierlach in the comic role of Don Profundo were particularly exciting.
The outstanding orchestra of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna was in the pit for both Adina and Comte Ory and played magnificently under conductors Renato Palumbo in Adina and Jesus Lopez Cobos in Comte Ory. The Orchestra of Galicia supplied orchestral accompaniment for Semiramide (under conductor Carlo Rizzi) and Viaggio (under Christopher Franklin). The Prague Chamber Choir featured in all the operas and acquitted them admirably.
Pesaro is also home to the Rossini Foundation, which works closely with the festival. The Foundation members, international Rossini experts, whose role is to critically review and edit Rossini's lesser-known and well known scores, editions now regarded as the "gold standard." The current production of Semiramide was the first performance of such a newly edited score.
Visiting Pesaro makes you realize how much of the vast output of Rossini has been unjustly neglected. By reviving long forgotten and neglected scores, the Pesaro festival and the Rossini foundation are bringing them to the attention to the opera loving public and for this we all owe Pesaro an immense debt of gratitude.
When Rossini met Beethoven, the latter is reported to have said somewhat condescendingly, "Above all, compose a lot of Barbers." Luckily for us, he did. Next year's program promises more delights and includes Elisabetta Regina D'Inghilterra, Tancredi and Matilde Di Shapran.#