Carmen Giannattasio (Ermione), Patricia Bardon (Andromaca), Colin Lee (Oreste), Paul Nilon (Pirro), Bülent Bezdüz (Pilade), Graeme Broadbent (Fenicio), Rebecca Bottone (Cleone), Victoria Simmonds (Cefisa), Loïc Félix (Attalo)
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir & London Philharmonic Orchestra, David Parry
'Carmen Giannattasio's performance was a triumph' Geoff Brown, The Times (reviewing the concert performance)
During the years from 1815 to 1822 when his career centred on Naples, Rossini composed a sequence of works for the Teatro San Carlo, which at that time boasted an outstanding orchestra and a company of resident singers that was the leading ensemble available anywhere. A string of masterpieces resulted, including such works as Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, Otello, Ricciardo e Zoraide and La donna del lago (all featuring in Opera Rara's catalogue).
Ermione is without doubt one of the greatest operas by Rossini, despite it being perhaps the least immediately successful: Ermione was received with incomprehension at its sole performance in 1819 and was never revived in Rossini's lifetime. The composer was resigned: 'It is my little Guillaume Tell in Italian,' he said, 'and will not see the light of day until after my death.' Since its first stage revival in Pesaro in 1987, Ermione has been recognised as a lost masterpiece. Set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, the opera's novelties begin with an overture interrupted by a choral lament of Trojan prisoners. Tension and staggering originality are maintained right to the very end.
The 2CD set comes with a lavishly illustrated book including a complete libretto with an English translation. Article and synopsis by the eminent 19th-century musical scholar, Jeremy Commons.
"Parry's conducting is taut yet singer- (and woodwind-solo) friendly and unfailingly dramatic. The standoffs between Carmen Giannattasio's Ermione, Paul Nilon's Pirro and Patricia Bardon's Andromaca bristle with theatrical temperament. Giannattasio is occasionally raw, but thrilling, while Colin Lee (Oreste) and Bardon show you don't have to be Italian to shine in this music."