Rossini: L'Italiana in Algeri - Horne, Montarsolo, Dara, Alva; Abbado. Milano, 1975


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If there were a cookbook for Italian Opera, the recipe for "L'Italiiana in Algeri" would read "Two parts Claudio Abbado, One part Marilyn Horne, add a dash of the La Scala orchestra and mix thoroughly." This is a lighter-than-air, delectable treatment of a very funny opera, and the entire company rises to the challenge. Horne is positively thrilling in what may have been her best role, the sheer control and flexibility of her voice a joy and her comic timing a thing of beauty. She is supported by the usual La Scala suspects: an ardent (if occasionally straining) Luigi Alva and the always engaging mugging contest that occurred whenever Paolo Montarsolo and Enzo Dara shared the stage. Montarsolo has the better part this time around, as the buffoonish Bey Mustafà, and if he cannot quite handle the florid coloratura he makes up for it in sheer will of characterization. Dara, as the hapless Taddeo, gets as much laughs as one would expect out of a very rich role. The sound is slightly distend but otherwise excellent.

OD 11135-2

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