La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) marked a culmination of the convergence of serious and comic elements in Rossini’s work. The result is an ideal hybrid: a tragic opera with a happy ending that rises to the status of true opera seria. With its outstanding dramatic and musical qualities it remains one of Rossini’s greatest and most successful operas, a constant presence in the repertoire since its triumphant 1817 première in Milan. This performance is conducted by Alberto Zedda, who made his conducting début in 1956, produced the first critical edition of La gazza ladra, and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the operas of Rossini.
Giuseppe Patanè (1 January 1932 – 29 May 1989) was an Italian opera conductor.
Giuseppe Patanè was born in Naples, the son of the conductor Franco Patanè (1908–1968), and studied in his native city. He made his debut there in 1951. He was principal conductor at the Linz opera from 1961 until 1962. He also was chief conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra from 1985 until 1989.
Patanè collapsed suddenly from a heart attack while conducting a performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, on 29 May 1989. He was taken to hospital where he died. He and his wife Rita, from whom he was separated at the time of his death, had two daughters.
“Sets, costumes and acting are all under sensible direction and there are none of those silly diversionary indulgences that have become so habitual in recent years. There are four good vocal performances: by Elena Zilio and Nucci Condò, both sturdy mezzos; by David Kuebler, an accomplished lyric tenor; and by the grand veteran Carlos Feller… Ileana Cotrubas as the heroine sometimes touches the heart but at this stage in her career rarely delights the ear. Bartoletti and his players do justice to Rossini's score, as do the video director and his crew to the events onstage.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2007
By Rossini’s time this genre was classified into a rigidly defined series of conventions: a drama with a happy ending, in which the innocent victim, unjustly condemned, should be saved from the scaffold at the eleventh hour and the rascal persecutor punished. The social setting of these operas always delt with a conflict between a feudal aristocracy ( that in La Gazza Ladra is replaced by arrogant welders of power ) and a world of humble people , nearly always peasants. - Known as ’The Thieving Magpie’ in English, La Gazza Ladra deals with a servant girl accused of stealing some silverware with which the magpie of the title has actually absconded for its nest. Seemingly lightweight, the opera was rooted in a true story in which a young woman was actually put to death for the bird’s ”crime”.
After its successful premiere, Rossini’s opera “Armida” was quickly forgotten, only to be triumphantly revived by Maria Callas in 1952, and ever since it is considered a masterpiece. This performance with primarily Italian forces, has all the wit, charm, beauty and sparkle that any Rossini opera can wish for. Some big names here: Cecilia Gasdia, Chris Merritt,William Matteuzzi and Ferruccio Furlanetto. Great addition to the Brilliant Classics Opera Collection. Armida is today considered one of Rossini’s greatest operas, but following its premier in Naples in 1817 it quickly faded from the standard operatic repertoire. Its plot of knightly duties, love and supernatural worlds (foreshadowing Weber in places) inspired the composer to write some of his most original and inimitable music, with unusual combinations of instruments and some beautiful extended solos for cello and violin.The love music is undeniably heartfelt and sincere; Rossini’s inspiration may have been assisted by his romantic involvement with the soprano Isabella Colbran, a major star of the time and the first to perform the title role.
The splendidly florid music, and amazing opportunities for bel canto vocalism make up for it. This recording, using the critical edition, is outstanding on the vocal front. The stunning Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Vesselina Kasarova has a rich, full tone and clean, accurate runs. She is well partnered by Eva Mei, whose bright but effective soprano carries a good characterization of a dramatically rather thankless role. Tenor Ramon Vargas nails his coloratura and possesses a ringing tone. They are well supported by the secondary principals, Muenchen Rundfunkorchester and the men of the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, all superbly conducted by Roberto Abbado. As an added bonus, the listener can choose between the original happy ending and the dramatically more viable tragic conclusion with which Rossini later revised the opera. –Sarah Bryan Miller
One of the most acclaimed musicians of his era, Toscanini was a conductor of the "old school" - aristocratic, perfectionistic and something of an autocrat on the podium. After a brief flurry of interest in Fascism in the 1910s, he rapidly became disillusioned with the movement and indeed became a personal rival of Mussolini, repeatedly antagonising him through acts of artistic defiance such as refusals to open concerts with the Fascist anthem Giovinezza.
Eventually he fled Italy for the United States, becoming the first conductor of the newly-formed NBC Symphony Orchestra, with whom he pioneered radio broadcasts and recordings that made him a household name in America until his retirement at the age of 87. He gave the premiere performances of several major works, including Barber's Adagio for Strings and the American premiere of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony.