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Perhaps even gloomier is Rossini’s Aureliano in Palmira, filmed in Pesaro, where it looks as though the budget ran out halfway through the design process. Mario Martone’s uninspired staging consists of some small gauzy scrims, raised and lowered at various points during the performance. At least we are spared a contemporary interpretation – something to be even more thankful for in view of the latest atrocities currently unfolding in Palmyra. Will Crutchfield leads a sensitive performance, but in its faithfulness to the critical edition something has gone missing: old fashioned excitement. Michael Spyres’ Aureliano is exceptionally vocalised, and he alone provides an element of dramatic tension. Jessica Pratt can’t interpolate her usual acuti, so the focus turns on the soprano’s slightly acidulous middle voice and her Zenobia is essentially passive. Lena Belkina could also have provided more vocal thrills – her flexible mezzo is certainly up to it, but her general demeanour is glum. Perhaps a cast defeated by its own cheap surroundings, Aureliano in Polyester?

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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