Adelaide di Borgogna

Adelaide di Borgogna is one of those rather odd “serious” Rossini works where bel canto collides with opera seria.  The plot is fairly accurately based on an episode from 10th century history and is most definitely not a comedy.  The form has progressed well beyond a succession of da capo arias with multiple ensemble numbers and quite a few choruses.  But there’s a throwback to an earlier tradition in the use of high voices for heroic male roles though it seems that by 1817 castrati were rather rare and the crucial role of Ottone, the German emperor, was from the beginning sung by a female contralto.

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