The new Naxos DVD of "Cleopatra" by early 19th cen opera master, Lauro Rossi, breathes new life into a somewhat obscure gem. Rossi (1812-1885) studied in Naples with Zingarelli, who can claim Vincenzo Bellini as another, better known, student. Rossi calls his opera a melodrama in four acts. In this production, a 2008 reworking by Bernando Ticci, the description is accurate and complimentary. In this unveiling, by the Sferisterio Opera Festival in Macerata, Ticci apparently cut out the overture and trimmed down an Act IV soliloquy by the queen's minister, Diomede, to push the drama forward. The story is familiar to most. Roman commander Marcus Antonius falls in love with Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, and cannot bring himself to follow orders and conquer and pillage her country. Antonio (Antonius) is still betrothed, however, to the daughter, Ottavio Cesare, of a powerful Roman officer. Antony's failure at both true love as well as his duty to country causes him to commit suicide. Cleopatra, upon hearing this news, breaks her compulsion to counter attack Rome and kill herself with the well known asp (a form of adder) bite to the neck. This opera is more bel canto than verismo and actually does sound a bit like Bellini in several places. Credit is due strong performances in leading roles. Dmitra Theodossiou is a strong singer and brings a strength coupled with some obsession to her Cleopatra; in the absence of innocence and pity to be found in later renditions. Similarly, Alessandro Liberatore is a husky, convincing Antonio who possesses a sense of the irreparable and less machismo. Sebastien Catano as Diomede is also convincing. The Orchestra Filharmonica Marchigiana and the Coro Lirico Marchigiano "Bellini" perform very well under conductor David Crescenzi. The staging is minimalist and small, as is the Teatro Rossi (named after the composer) but the setting is quite attractive and the production values are good. This little rarity is well worth checking out for a different approach to a familiar story.