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An early almost-hit for Rossini, Ciro in Babilonia has seldom been performed since. Will Crutchfield conducted Davide Livermore’s production at the Caramoor Festival in 2012 before it arrived in Pesaro, where this DVD was recorded. Livermore’s production is half thrilling and half frustrating. The Cecil B. Demille silent movie treatment works wittily, with the singers striking poses with panache and Gianluca Falaschi’s black and white costumes surely amongst the most stunning ever seen on stage. But the absorption of the cinema audience into the action and the over-acting of the extras is a burden, plus the relentless flickering screen effect is fit-inducing. Ewa Podles’s Ciro goes where fewer mezzos have been before, usually lower, and Jessica Pratt’s Amira soars in alt. Michael Spyre’s Baldassare throws offtenor roulades with insouciance. This is a superb cast, stylishly conducted by Crutchfield, and the release is an important record of virtuosic Rossini singing.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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