Cecilia Bartoli has been heralded as the most exciting, accomplished Rossini singer to appear in the modern era. Fiorilla is the only major solo role in the composer’s "Il turco", which derives much of its charm from its ensemble set pieces. It is a part which Bartoli was longing to take on when she made an audio recording of the opera with Riccardo Chailly a few years ago. She made her first stage appearance as the flirtatious, vivacious and beguiling young wife in this Cesare Lievi production for Zurich Opera and, throughout a dazzling coloratura performance, oozes charm and explosive passion.
Lievi’s direction stresses the Pirandellian aspects of the plot – though this time it’s an author in search of six characters – and Tullio Pericoli’s delightfully playful sets and costumes are drawn in a colourful, storybook style, distorting scales and perspectives.
All this suits wonderfully with the protagonists who are caricatures to a tee: the unfaithful wife, the wronged husband, the wily, lascivious Turk.
With a cast including Ruggero Raimondi, Paolo Rumetz, Reinaldo Macias, Oliver Widmer and Judith Schmid, all in fine voice and throwing themselves into their roles with gusto, this staging cannot fail to be a hit. Opera News summed up the performance as one that "bubbled with high spirits and such rousing vitality that one felt as if one were riding a rocket". Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Chorus and the Orchestra of the Opera House Zurich.
Available on DVD: a Must, not only for Bartoli fans but also for lovers of the Italian Opera.