Ciro in Babilonia

Ciro in Babilonia is an early work by Rossini composed for the lenten season when only works on biblical/religious themes were permitted.  This doesn’t really fit that description.  Sure, the story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall gets a brief look in but it’s almost interpolated in the story, from Herodotus, of Cyrus’ capture, together with wife and child, by Belshazzar.  It’s a tale of arrogant kingship, religious faith and marital devotion.  Typical opera seria stuff really.  It’s a bit thin plot-wise though which probably explains its relegation to obscurity.  This first modern production was created at Caramoor, then translated to the Rossini festival at Pesaro, where it was recorded in 2012.

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Bard of sex and Eros kinky

The sudden death of Italian opera has always intrigued me.  Works, by Italians or to Italian libretti, dominated opera houses, at least in the English speaking world, for centuries.  The Metropolitan Opera even commissioned new work in Italian (Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, 1910).  But after Turandot (1924) new works in Italian pretty much dried up.  I can’t think of a single one that could be considered a repertory staple and even more recherché pieces like Pizzetti’s Assassinio nella Cattedrale are few and far between.  Indeed, since WW2 at least, the dominant language for new operas has been English with German some way behind and the odd work in French or something more obscure.  So, I was intrigued to get my hands on a recording of Luca Mosca’s 2007 work Signor Goldoni; a commission for Venice’s La Fenice inspired by the 18th century Venetian playwright and librettist Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni.  What’s really surprising is that the libretto (perhaps we should say “book”) by Italian writer Gianluigi Melaga, is in English!  Apparently librettist and composer consider that English is better adapted to the kind of word play they were aiming for than Italian.

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