Episode #5

L'Italiana in Algeri: Rossini's quest for Italy

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ying Fang and Rihab Chaieb in Rossini's 'L'Italiana in Algeri.' Ying Fang and Rihab Chaieb in Rossini's 'L'Italiana in Algeri.' (Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

L'Italiana in Algeri may seem like a classic battle of the sexes story set in North Africa, but it's really all about Italy. At least that's one way to look at it. On this episode of He Sang/She Sang, author Fred Plotkin, soprano Ying Fang and mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb discuss the politics, patriotism and musical brilliance of Rossini's escape-story masterpiece.

Fred Plotkin's YouTube pick (Marilyn Horne, Pablo Montarsolo, Myra Merritt, Douglas Ahlstedt, Spiro Malas)


Merrin Lazyan's YouTube pick (Anna Goryachova, Alex Esposito, Yijie Shi, Mario Cassi)


This episode features excerpts from the following album:

Rossini: L'Italiana in Algeri (Erato, 1981)
— Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano; Samuel Ramey, bass; Kathleen Battle, soprano; Clara Foti, mezzo-soprano; Nicola Zaccaria, bass; Ernesto Palacio, tenor; Domenico Trimarchi, baritone; I Solisti Veneti conducted by Claudio Scimone

Hosted by:

Merrin Lazyan and Michael Shobe

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

I've learned that the issue of Italian nationhood was uppermost in Rossini's and his audiences' mind as regards "L'Italiana in Algeri" which I've always thought was a magnificent comedy, courtesy of Anelli and Rossini. To start with, the Overture is shimmering, uplifting and brilliant (which Rossini overtures aren't)? I've always felt that we listeners can get an inkling of whether we will like our three principals based upon how they sing their revealing opening music: "Languir..." for Lindoro, "Cruda sorte..." for Isabella and Gia` d'insolito..." for Mustafa`. I think these numbers reveal their characters and we can quickly assess whether we like what we'll continue to hear; and based upon the cast for the recorded performance we'll be hearing on the Saturday matine'e on 31 December 2016 with James Levine conducting, we can tune in with confidence that we'll enjoy it all. I disagree that the septet that ends Act I includes nonsense syllables...or what sounds like nonsense syllables: they're onomotopoetic. Zulma, Elvira and Isabella are hearing bells in their heads..."din", Lindoro hears a clock ticking "tac", Taddeo a raven's crowing "ca", Ali a hammer "tac ta" and Mustafa` a cannon booming "bum". Boy, did Rossini ever know how to bring down a first-act curtain on comedies! I always also enjoy the intended exaggeration of the syllables "PAPA..." that Taddeo asks Mustafa` to repeat when he takes the oath of the Pappataci.

Dec. 28 2016 02:57 PM

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