Opera Scotland

Zelmira 2003Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Zelmira

This great rarity is the last of Rossini’s Naples operas, with fiendishly difficult roles for the soprano and two principal tenors.  The libretto may not be ideal, but the quality of Rossini’s music is high, and his response to situation is immediate, with some dramatic climaxes seeming almost Beethovenian in their power.

Zelmira here received its first British performance in modern times, as well as its Scottish premiere.  The tie-in with Opera Rara’s live recording means that the performance is preserved.  The playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra was wonderful under the direction of Maurizio Benini.

While Elizabeth Futral made an attractive heroine, the two tenors seemed particularly outstanding, with Bruce Ford projecting a dramatic edge as the villain and Antonino Siragusa as a sweet-toned hero.  The two basses were equally well contrasted and expert stylists, with Mirco Palazzi as a nasty henchman beginning a run of Rossini appearances in Edinburgh.  Marco Vincò made a highly sympathetic old man.

One extra source of tension was the unexpected length of the work, which had clearly caught the Festival management on the hop.  By the interval it was clear that the performance would overrun earlier estimates significantly.  An announcement was therefore made before the evening continued - audience members with tickets for the open-air fireworks concert (a Festival institution scheduled for a 10:30 start) were begged not to ruin the recording by leaving before the end.

The perfectly logical justification was that the concert could not start without an orchestra, and the SCO, the band in question, would not be leaving the Usher Hall until they had finished playing the Rossini. Fortunately no difficulties were apparent in the performance, and the relevant members of the audience, if there were any,  behaved themselves.


Rare Rossini Operas at the Edinburgh Festival

Several Rossini works have appeared in Edinburgh when they were little known anywhere.  The first of these imported stagings was Il signor Bruschino (from Florence 1969), then  Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra, brought from Palermo in 1972.  After a near thirty-year gap Festival Director Brian McMaster in 2001 began a series of four concert performances with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and top-rank performers. The series began with Armida, sponsored by the Peter Moores Foundation.  That sponsorship continued with live recordings made by Opera Rara - Zelmira (2003),  Adelaide di Borgogna(2005), and La Donna del Lago (2006).  After a gap, in 2011 a staging of Semiramide appeared.

Performance Cast

Antenore usurping King of Lesbos

Bruce Ford

Leucippo a follower of Antenore

Mirco Palazzi

Polidoro deposed King of Lesbos

Marco Vincò

Zelmira daughter of Polidoro

Elizabeth Futral

Emma Zelmira's confidante

Manuela Custer

Ilo a Trojan prince, married to Zelmira

Antonino Siragusa

Eacide a follower of Ilo

Ashley Catling

High Priest of Neptune

Mathias Hausmann

Performance DatesZelmira 2003

Map List

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

30 Aug, 19.00

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