University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Rossini: Tancredi

10/15/2017 1:00 pm
10/15/2017 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

This is Gioacchino Rossini's first great opera seria, written for the illustrious Teatro La Fenice in Venice in 1813, when the composer was a mere twenty one years of age. Tancredi took Europe by storm. It remained so popular that it influenced Wagner half a century later, when he quoted a Rossini tune in a chorus in Die Meistersinger.

Rossini changed the original happy ending of the opera for a revival in Ferrara, giving it a surprising tragic twist. The music for the alternate final scene, when the mortally wounded knight is married to his beloved Amenaide, was rediscovered in the early 1970's. The American diva Marilyn Horne championed the Ferrarese death scene. She made it her own in the 1985 CBS Masterworks release of Tancredi, recorded live in performance in co-production with the Italian record label Fonicetra. Ralf Weikert conducts the La Fenice theater orchestra and chorus. Keep in mind that the role of the knight Tancredi was taken by a mezzo.

In the eleventh century AD the noble knight defended Christian Sicily against the Muslim invaders from North Africa. Tancredi's betrothed, Amenaide, is soprano Lella Cuberli. I have broadcast the CBS Masterworks LP release of Tancredi twice before: first on Sunday, November 10, 1985 when it was a brand new acquisition to our WWUH record library, and again on Sunday, November 8, 2009.