The Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Rossini's birthplace, is internationally renowned for its innovative stagings and musically impeccable productions of Rossini's works. In this staging of the dramma per musica "Zelmira", the Festival once again lays claim to this reputation. "A score of supreme elegance and bold orchestration" (Corriere della Sera), "Zelmira" was written in 1822 for Naples, and enjoyed great popularity in Europe before falling into a long, unjustified, and only occasionally interrupted, slumber.
The stellar cast is toplined by Juan Diego Flórez, "today's greatest bel canto star" (La Repubblica), whose opening aria, with its five high D's and long-held high C, was hailed by Opernwelt as "phenomenal". Flórez can also be seen on UNITEL's productions of Donizetti's "La fille du régiment" and Rossini's "La Cenerentola". Kate Aldrich, with her "exquisitely Rossinian mezzo" (Il Giornale di Vicenza), was acclaimed as "the discovery of the year" (L'Unità). Holding his own next to Flórez is tenor Gregory Kunde. Rounding off the lead roles are Alex Esposito and Marianna Pizzolato. Conductor Roberto Abbado delivers a "permanent and splendid musical fireworks" (La Libre Belgique) that grabs the listener's attention with its succession of virtuoso ensembles.
The story, about a princess unjustly accused of having killed her father, is given a semi-contemporary interpretation by stage director Giorgio Barberio Corsetti, who builds his production around a gigantic mirror that shows us the dark and often invisible underside of power and its abuse, the topic of the work. Corsetti "delivers a production of great visual fascination and dramaturgical intelligence" (Corriere della Sera). This rediscovery should help "Zelmira" return to theaters everywhere.