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This Rossini rarity has suffered firstly for not being as strong as its two immediate predecessors, L’italiana in Algeri and Tancredi, and then for having had large chunks of music borrowed and popularised in Il barbiere di Siviglia. It has some moments of great beauty and admittedly some longueurs, but overall makes for interesting listening. Opera Rara, as ever, does it proud with excellent engineering and an informative booklet. Maurizio Benini leads an authoritative performance, and the London Philharmonia plays with style. Kenneth Tarver takes the title role, and his sweetly elegant tenor surmounts its coloratura difficulties with seeming ease. Likewise the travesti role of Arsace (created by the great castrato Velluti) is dispatched with panache and thrilling tone by Silvia Tro Santafé. Catriona Smith’s Zenobia is sweetly sung with some moments of shrillness; but her duets with Tro Santafé are rather delicious highlights of bel canto grace. A rarity worth investigating.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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