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Two Rossini operas whizz past this month – a Tornado Rossini perhaps? Superstar mezzo Cecilia Bartoli beguiles her way through L’italiana in Algeri, filmed last year in Salzburg. And if I may be ungallant as to confess that I thought perhaps she’d leftit a touch late in her career, Bartoli proves me wrong. She looks and sounds wonderful as Isabella, relishing both the languorous lines and coloratura of the role, and having fun all the way as the errant tourist stranded in Algeria (I blame Thomas Cook). Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production is jolly, sometimes a little too much so, but at least it has the bravura to match its leading lady. They say that they are playing with ‘oriental clichés’, which means they can have their cake and eat it, so it’s a tacky modern world of Arab wide boys, harems, turbans and farting camels. Nothing subtle, but all enacted with vigour by the strong cast. Alongside Bartoli are Ildar Abdrazakov as Mustafà, the randy husband with his eye on the main chance, Rebeca Olvera as his miserable wife and Edgardo Rocha as Lindoro, lost lover-boy. Throw in Alessandro Corbelli’s muddlesome Taddeo with his sunburn and Superman underpants and you have the ingredients for a riot. Thankfully Jean-Christophe Spinosi keeps a firm hand in the pit.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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