OP0477. L'INGANNO FELICE (Rossini), recorded 1996, w. Minkowski Cond. Le Concert des Tuileries Ensemble; Annick Massis, Rodney Gilfry, Raúl Giménez, Pietro Spagnoli & Lorenzo Regazzo. (Germany) Erato 17579, w.Elaborate 107pp Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 706301757920
“Rossini’s first staged opera, LA CAMBIALE DI MATRIMONIO, was premiered at Venice’s Teatro San Moisè in November 1810. It was a full year later before his next opera L'EQUIVOCO STRAVAGANTE, appeared in his hometown of Bologna. It was musically sound and innovative and well received. However, its plot offended the local censors and it was quickly withdrawn. Meanwhile the impresario of the Teatro San Moisè had been impressed by Rossini’s first effort for his theatre and was eager for another farsa. L’INGANNO FELICE (The Happy Stratagem) waspremiered there to acclaim on 8 January 1812 during the important Carnival Season. Within a year it had been staged in Bologna, Florence, Verona and Trieste as well as at the Teatro San Benedetto, second only to La Fenice in Venice. The innate quality of the music also enabled Rossini to use the opera as a calling card when he settled in Naples in 1815 and then in Paris in 1824, although the work had already been heard there in 1819. During his lifetime it was the third most performed of Rossini’s operas. As it traveled, modifications and additions were made to meet the skills and requirements of particular singers and theatres.
In many ways L’INGANNO FELICE is not a true farsa or comic opera, but can more properly be seen as an early Rossini effort at semi seria. Rossini brought this genre to full flowering much later in his career. The evidence is to be found in TORVALDO E DORLISKA, 1815, and most notably in LA GAZZA LADRA (The Thieving Magpie, 1817). MATILDE DU SHABRAN of 1822 is a further example. Like L’INGANNO FELICE these works can be seen as variants of the ‘rescue’ opera form. No wonder Rossini used it as a calling card; it certainly stood him in good stead. Such works usually, but not always as in Beethoven’s FIDELIO, involve a woman faced with an unspeakable fate.
I can state immediately that this performance is far superior to [a previous recording] in every respect. The small-sized orchestra is ideal and Marc Minkowski draws idiomatic playing in a clear, well-balanced and warm acoustic.
The singing is first class. Annick Massis is particularly characterful as Isabella with warm-toned expressive tone and secure coloratura managing the demands of clear diction better than most in the high tessitura and concludes her aria with a secure high note. As her husband, Raúl Giménez is the epitome of the desired mellifluous tenor. His flexible leggiero tenor, with a mezza voce to die for, is ideal to convey Bertrando’s character which he does so with first-rate characterisation. I might quibble about the vocal descriptions of the three lower male voices. Pietro Spagnoli, designated bass here is, as we have come to appreciate over the years as a distinguished Figaro in Rossini’s IL BARBIERE, a true baritone. He portrays the sympathetic Tarabotto exhibiting his always-welcome qualities ofeven singing and clarity of diction in the recitatives and ensembles. Rodney Gilfry, darker in timbre than Spagnoli, gets the aria when Batone recognises Nisa as Isabella and has to get his mind around the past and present consequences. He sings with firm, resonant and expressive tone. Lorenzo Regazzo is a true bass and brings the roles’ villainy to full realisation in his interpretation as he plans and instructs the abduction of Nisa.
One must however be thankful for small mercies and welcome the return of this recording to the catalogue as part of the Erato Opera Collection and at a price that should ensure that every Rossini-lover adds it to his or her collection if it is not already there.”
-- Robert J Farr, MusicWeb International