Rossini: Aureliano in Palmira (3CD)

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Virtuosi Brunensis, Poznań Camerata Bach Choir José Miguel Pérez-Sierra

Performers: Silvia Dalla Benetta (soprano), Marina Viotti and Ana Victoria Pitts (mezzo-sopranos), Juan Francisco Gatell (tenor), Camerata Bach Choir Poznan, Virtuosi Brunensis, Jose Miguel Perez-Sierra

Aureliano in Palmira is unique in Rossini’s oeuvre for its inclusion of the only role, Arsace, that Rossini wrote for the castrato voice. Its tale of tragic defeat and the ultimate nobility and triumph of love in seemingly impossible circumstances is a refined and highly innovative example of his style. Set amidst turbulent times in the Roman Empire, Aureliano in Palmira is packed with sublime arias, duets of haunting beauty (notably the three given to Arsace and Zenobia) and excellent choruses, Rossini himself considering this work as ‘divine music.’ Even after initial success he reused many of its melodies in later operas, most famously in Il barbiere di Siviglia. “Silvia Dalla Benetta… played the role of Zenobia and left no doubt that she was not only the Queen of Palmira, but also the prima donna of this evening! With her crisp, slender timbre and her excellent height she sang tirelessly and with brio. The Roman emperor Aureliano was sung with authority by Juan Francisco Gatell, a tenor with a clear, compact voice and a beautiful legato… Between the extensive list of singers… there is always a disappointment but not this year!”