ROSSINI Adelaide do Borgogna
Adelaide di Borgogna, staged in Rome in December 1817, comes between Rossini’s Armida and Mosè in Egitto. The setting is Italy, supposedly on Lake Garda, in the middle of the 10th century. Adelaide is held in a castle by Berengario, the murderer of her husband King Lotario. She rejects the advances of Adelberto, Berengario’s son, who proposes to share the throne with her. Rescue comes in the shape of Ottone, the German Emperor Otto I who, instantly smitten, offers marriage. Before the ceremony can take place, the Germans are ambushed by Berengario’s men. Ottone escapes; Adelberto renews his wooing of Adelaide, but news comes that the situation has been reversed and Berengario is now a prisoner. Adelberto is torn between his feelings for Adelaide and his duty as a son, but Berengario rejects the proposed exchange of prisoners. After further complications and a decisive battle, Ottone triumphantly assumes both the throne of Italy and the hand of Adelaide.
Rossini wrote the opera in a hurry, and it seems that the arias for Berengario and his wife Eurice, as well as the secco recitatives, were composed by others. Some of the music will have been familiar to the audiences at the Teatro Argentina. Il barbiere di Siviglia had been premiered there the previous year: not only did the chorus welcoming Ottone draw on the imbroglio following Doctor Bartolo’s unmasking of ‘Don Alonso’, but most of Adelaide’s ‘Cingi la benda candida’ came from Almaviva’s ‘Cessa di più resistere’. As the villain of the piece, Berengario is underdrawn: the important characters are Ottone, Adelberto and Adelaide herself.
Ottone is a trouser role: in ‘Soffri la tua sventura’ he engages in a dialogue with a solo cor anglais. Margarita Gritskova makes a strong impression both here and in the duets with Adelberto and Adelaide. As Adelberto, Gheorghe Vlad comes across as a bit pallid: he does well in the coloratura of ‘Grida, o natura’, but you need the personality of a Juan Diego Flórez or Luigi Alva. Ekaterina Sadovnikova is touching in Adelaide’s lamenting cavatina; she blends well with Gritskova and crowns her last aria with a joyous cabaletta.
Luciano Acocella gets some lively singing and playing from his Polish chorus and Czech orchestra. The booklet – synopsis, no libretto – refers to a concert performance in Edinburgh but curiously doesn’t mention the ensuing Opera Rara recording. I haven’t heard it but it was enthusiastically reviewed by Rossini expert Richard Osborne (3/07) and it includes libretto and translation.