Rossini L'Italiana in Algeri

Author: 
Richard Osborne

Rossini L'Italiana in Algeri

  • (L')Italiana in Algeri, '(The) Italian Girl in Algiers'

Of the five currently available recordings of L'italiana in Algeri—conducted, in ascending order of seniority, by Giulini (EMI), Varviso (Decca), Ferro (CBS), Scimone (Erato) and Abbado (DG)—this Scimone set is probably the all-round winner, not least for the expert and exuberant realization of the title-role by Marilyn Horne. Julian Budden thought so when he considered the work in Radio 3 Record Review's ''Building a Library'', and I am inclined to agree, though the Ferro set, with Lucia Valentini Terrani as a rather more placid Italian Girl, is also very fine.
Sadly, Erato dropped from the first CD reissue (8/88) the three alternative arias that Rossini wrote for Vicenza, Milan and Naples, and ''Per lui che adoro'' in its original scoring with flute obbligato. These appeared as fascinating addenda to the original three-LP set in 1981. In 1988 Erato decided against trying to squeeze them on to two CDs; though, tantalizingly, they are still discussed in the excellent booklet note by the editor of the Critical Edition, Azio Corghi.
In the event, this latest CD reissue is a straight re-run of the 1988 one. All that is different is the label logo. This has become Libretto, a shameless innovation given the fact that, once again, Erato provide an Italian text but no English one. Ironically, if you want an English libretto, you will have to ignore Libretto and buy the CBS set instead.'

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