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Maometto Secondo [Box set]

Gioacchino Rossini Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 61.99
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical splendor for Rossini and Ramey fans Dec 2 2004
By E. A. Lovitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The darkly resonant basso cantante of Samuel Ramey and his considerable powers of interpretation are the joys of this three-CD album. According to Ramey himself, the title role of "Maometto Secondo" is the most difficult part he has sung to date, so this 1983 Philips recording with Rossini expert Claudio Scimone conducting is a must-have for Ramey fans. I believe it's the only recording of this great bass singing his most demanding role.

When the eponymous Turkish sultan comes onstage with his victorious troops for the first time in Act One, he immediately launches into his florid cavatina, 'Sorgete, sorgete' where he acknowledges the obeisance of his followers--think of Mehmet II as the Muslim Alexander the Great. In this particular opera, he is engaged in capturing the Venetian colony of Negroponte in Greece. His most famous conquest, for us Christians at least, was Constantinople.

In Rossini's version, Mehmet II fails to conquer the Venetian colony because Anna, the woman with whom he fell in love while he was disguised as the student, Uberto, betrays him. In order to save her father, the governor of Negroponte and her fiancé, Calbo, Anna lets herself be abducted by the Turkish conqueror. But after an aria and duet, and before he can proceed with his love-making, Mehmet II has to trot off to another battle. Anna obtains his imperial seal of authority, which allows her people to trick and drive off the Sultan and his army. In her mother's burial vault, Anna is married to Calbo (powerfully sung by mezzo-soprano, Margarita Zimmermann) by her father, and when the Sultan comes looking for revenge, she admits her deception and after the thrilling 'Madre, a te,' stabs herself in the heart.

As you might guess from the plot, the soprano really gets to chew up the stage in this opera, and June Anderson sings a competent, though stressed Anna.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid recording Feb. 11 2008
By John Cragg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Maometto II is an opera seria composed in 1820 for Naples, where it flopped. It was revised for subsequent more successful productions in the next couple of years, and most of it was used for Le Siege de Corinthe in 1826. It contains a great deal of ebulient, marvellous music, and as usual in Rossini's peculiar esthetic the nature of music is not all that closely tied to the content of the libretto. It serves as a great show-case for really accomplised bel canto singers, and here it receives a wonderful production.

Principal among the strengths of this recording are the enthusiastic and beautiful singing of Samuel Ramey in the title role and the show-stealing performance of June Anderson, but the rest of the cast are well up to their standards. Claudio Scimone makes an exciting and coherent overall production, leading the Philharmonia orchestra -- possibly the best of the London Orchestras at the time -- and the solid Ambrosian Chorus in a well balanced performance that matches the quality of the singing.

The notes in this set are minimal -- giving the cast, the track listing and a synopsis, keyed to the track listing. There is no libretto, or indication of which version is recorded. With Rossini it matters less than with many other opera composers that you are not able to make out the words or understand them, but I'm sure the lebretto must have been available and translated when the 1983 recording was first issed by Phillips. This lack of information is the one black spot in an otherwise first class, exciting set.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rossini Grand Feast For Voices: Another Hit !! Feb. 1 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It was only after hearing Rossini's Viaggio A Reims and Maometto Secondo on this recording that I became a fan of the lost art of Rossini opera. It is sad that today the only popular and performed Rossini work is Barber of Seville. A perennial classic, it is nothing like say this opera, about the grand, victorious Muslim conqueror Maometto (Mohameed in Italian) sung by the greatest bass-baritone of our time Samuel Ramey. And look at the extensive cast -June Anderson as Anna Erisso, Margarita Zimmermann as Calbo, Ernesto Palacio as Paolo Erisso Laurence Dale [Condulmiero] Laurence Dale [Selimo]. The Ambrosia Opera Chorus can always be counted on for excellent work and the conductor has enough Italian in him to understand Rossini.

This recording is a vocal feast of voices. Samuel Ramey and June Anderson have glorious voices and sing their roles with enough mastership of the repertoire to make the opera exciting and beautiful. All fans of this type of singing, which is a dead art, and fans of Samuel Ramey will eat it up. This vehicle is a great one for Ramey. It allowed him to challenge himself as a bass-baritone, it showcases all aspects of his singing. He has a rich, dark, textured and florid singing voice, while still maintaining a vigorous masculinity and dark edge. Before he made it big in his famous Devil personaee, he was the greatest Rossini baritone, a fact that seems to have faded. This role he considered his best and most challenging. June Anderson may ocassionally sound strained, but that's because the part is heavy and taxing, with much fioritura to boot. I also agree with the other critic that this role would have suited Beverly Sills, but perhaps this would have been too much for her as well. It is vehicle for a true Rossini soprano with both lyric, coloratura and even mezzo qualities. Mezzo soprano Margarita Zimmerman makes a terrific account of Calbo, and one would only imagine what Marilyn Horne could have done with the part. The music is grand, and full of vertiginous scales up and down the staff. There is even an old-school charm about this piece, as if the singers were from an even older period. Singinng Rossini, particularly this type of opera, is not easy and the singers should be credited for their outstanding abilities to stand there and sing this difficult music. If only I had been around to see Samuel Ramey sing this role!!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mature Rossini expertly sung May 8 2012
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
By the time Rossini wrote this opera, his last flop for Naples in 1820, he was champing at the bit to abandon the "macaroni-guzzlers" and head for Venice and ultimately Paris where he could write opera seria in a grander style. Works such as "Mosè in Egitto" (1818) had already signalled his artistic ambitions and it is evident from the start of "Maometto secondo" that he is writing on a larger scale to an inflated libretto by Cesare della Valle.

Never one to waste a good tune, Rossini eventually recycled and partially re-wrote "Maometto" as "Le Siège de Corinthe" for the Paris Opera and it then reappeared in Italian as "L'assedio di Corinto" in Parma, but this is the original version and one for the purists who want to hear the composer's intentions. We have some of the same team who recorded the original "Mosè": sprightly, sensitive conductor Scimone with the Philharmonia and the entirely dependable Ambrosian Singers plus two of the same singers: June Anderson and Ernesto Palacio. The Peruvian tenor has a rather hard, uningratiating tone but he can cope with the embellishments, even if at first he suffers by comparison with Lawrence Dale's more mellifluous tenor. Anderson has a large, sometimes unwieldy soprano occasionally reminiscent of later Joan Sutherland. She copes admirably with a demanding part written for the legendary Colbran. Margaret Zimmerman brings a chocolaty mezzo to bear on the breeches role of Calbo. The real bonus, of course, is the chance to hear the agile, rich-voiced Samuel Ramey rather than the usual resident Rossini house basso Ruggero Raimondi, who was imposing but rather lugubrious in comparison with Ramey who is on record as saying that this was his most challenging role. He despatches the fioratura required with admirable skill and power. It is not actually a particularly large role - Maometto doesn't appear until half way through the first Act, is present on stage for comparatively little time and in fewer than half the scenes, from nos.4 to 8, and then only at the end of the concluding Scene 11 - but the role makes up in vocal difficulty what it lacks in duration.

Central to Act 1 is a huge Terzettone with a wonderful sequence of numbers including a grand trio and Anna's famous "Preghiera". Rossini increasingly excelled in penning these stately, dignified outpourings of emotion and the depth and variety of the supporting orchestration complements the grandeur of the vocal line. As with "Mosè", however, the emphasis is upon superb vocal ensembles until Anna once gain takes central stage in the Finale for her extended sequence of contrasting arias. I'm not sure that Anderson has quite the sufficient vocal personality or dramatic presence that by all accounts Colbran - or Beverly Sills, for that matter - possessed in order to make the most of what should be a concluding tour de force. What should be climactic is instead a little low-key, but she is a sincere, accomplished singer.

We are very unlikely to get another, better studio recording, nor perhaps do we need one - although you might like to supplement this one with the live recording of "L'assedio di Corinto", which has additional, rearranged and different music performed by a starry cast headed by Sills, Horne, Diaz and a riotous Franco Bonisolli who could hardly present a greater vocal contrast to the thin-voiced Palacio. Bonisolli's baritonal heft is probably much closer to that of Andrea Nozzari, the first exponent of the role of Paolo Erisso; he also sounds much more like an authoritarian father and city governor than the rather weedy Palacio.

Unfortunately, the Philips Trio issue no longer includes a libretto or Philip Gossett's informative and scholarly essay.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent recording................ Sept. 14 2007
By Tanis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Claudio Scimone's account of Maometto II has Samuel Ramey magnificently focusing the whole story in his portrait of the Muslim invader in love with the heroine. The other singing is less sharply characterized but is generally stylish, with Margarita zimmermann in the travesty role of Calbo and June Anderson singing sweetly as Anna. Laurence Dale is excellent in two smaller roles, while Ernesto Palacio mars some fresh-tones singing with his intrusive aitches.

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