Gioachino Rossini

A rare work based on a play by Racine. Rest assured, though: it is a brilliant demonstration of the master of Pesaro's art

Sung in Italian with French subtitles

Rossini was only 25 years old when he was appointed musical director of the San Carlo opera house in Naples. He had just given successful first performances, in quick succession, of Tancredi and The Italian Girl in Algiers. He enjoyed exceptionally good conditions there, with the people, artistic and financial conditions he needed to experiment with new directions in composition, more specifically by expanding the orchestra's role and the dramatic expression of his subsequent operas. Ermione (1819) is the sixth of the nine works he composed between 1815 and 1822. In a departure from the buffa genre, the work is composed to an adaptation of Racine's Andromaque, set in the aftermath of the Trojan War. The opera fell into a long period of neglect, resurfacing only in 1977, over 100 years after the composer's death. It contains some fine formal innovations, such as the chorus singing in the overture, or Ermione's immense scene in Act II (which foreshadows the later "mad scenes" written by Bellini and Donizetti). The novel musical construction and the dramatic power of this love/hate story truly deserve an enduring revival.


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