Rossini: Elisabetta, regina d'Inghiliterra - Gencer, Grilli, Geszty, Borelli, Bottazzo; Sanzogno. Palermo, 1970
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The fact that the overture to this dramatic opera is the same as Il Barbiere di Siviglia does very little to set a serious tone for the evening. In fact the whole work is peppered with cannibalized portions of Barbiere during critical dramatic moments. Nonetheless Rossini was a deft tragedian and if you can divorce yourself from the association the Barbiere quotations create you will find Rossini at his finest. And what better role could you create for a soprano than Elizabeth I? It requires a singer of extreme stature and vocal command. Enter Leyla Gencer. Gencer owns the part from her first entrance to the final scene and conveys all the nuances of this regal and tortured character. It takes a brave soprano to stand next to this kind of singer in such a part, but Sylvia Geszty proves an appropriate counterpart as Matilde with her pure youthful tone. Umberto Grilli makes an ardent Leicester combining precise technical ability with great Rossini style. The sound is very good.