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Infinitely less energetic is Ricciardo e Zoraide from Pesaro, also last year. A lesser-known work from Rossini’s time in Naples, composed in 1818, it shows his development of operatic form. The most interesting elements of the work are the complex ensembles, whereas the arias are showy but less gripping. The story is set in the Crusades, and involves a Christian knight, Ricciardo, rescuing his lover from the clutches of a Nubian king despite the machinations of the jealous queen. The production by Marshall Pynkoski is dramatically inert. In fact, it looks like a 19th-century picture book barely come to life; glamorous costumes and a few Moorish arches and that’s about it for your money. The hero, Juan Diego Flórez, makes his entrance in a boat that looks like it was cobbled together during a team-building away day. Thankfully the singing is wonderful. Flórez goes head-to-head with Sergey Romanovsky as the king, Agorante, and they are well matched in their Rossinian thrills. A third tenor, the young Xabier Anduaga, snaps at their heels. Pretty Yende spins magic as Zoraide and mezzo Victoria Yarovaya is an exciting foil. Romanovsky perhaps edges ahead by virtue of having the glamorous voice and looks to thrill the crowd. Giacomo Sagripanti conducts with a firm hand in building those ensembles.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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