The plot concerns the feisty eponymous heroine Isabella. She has been sailing in the Mediterranean, accompanied by an elderly admirer Taddeo, in search of her lover Lindoro. After her ship is wrecked Mustafa, the Bey of Algiers, believes her the ideal replacement for his neglected wife who he intends to marry off to a captured slave, who happens to be Lindoro. Complicated situations ensue involving Taddeo being awarded the honour of Kaimakan and Mustafa in turn becoming a Pappataci, a spoof award invented by Isabella to keep him obeying her strict instructions. All ends well in a rousing finale with the Italians escaping from the clutches of the Bey.
If you want a good sampling of Copland's orchestral works, then this 2-CD compilation comes highly recommended, with excellent performances of works such as Appalachian Spring, Quiet City, El Salón México and others. (Presto Classical)
..Of great voices the present recording can offer at least one. Marilyn Horne, even at this date (1976), was no longer singing with the firmness of earlier years, as is clear if this performance of "Ah, mon fils" and the Prison scene is compared with that included in her magnificent first LP recitals. Even so, much of the richness remains and the majestic virtuosity is unimpaired… The Royal Philharmonic under Henry Lewis play well, colourful orchestration being among the score's most attractive features… –Gramophone
Antonio Vivaldi wrote hundreds of largely famous instrumental works, and his glorious church music is well known; but it wasn’t until recent decades that his operas – of which he is said to have created more than fifty – were resurrected. Orlando furioso occupies a central and very significant place among Vivaldi’s works. Not only does the whole score of this opera demonstrate its composer’s full, creative maturity, but its outstanding features are also an extraordinary musical beauty, an attractive recitative line and a balance thus created between the various parts of the dramatic and musical whole. This exceptional musical achievement was no doubt partly due to the famous theme of the original story, as well as the literary and dramatic qualities of a fi rst-rate libretto. Pier Luigi Pizzi’s 1979 production of Orlando furioso in Verona marked the beginning of contemporary international interest in Antonio Vivaldi’s operas. Ten years later the same director once more produced this work at the San Francisco Opera, where it was a great success.
This 1966 recording, billed as the first complete Semiramide on disc, with Joan Sutherland singing Semiramide and Marilyn Horne singing the trouser role Arsace, has long been considered the standard by which all other Semiramide's are measured. Although subsequently there have been more complete recordings, this remains among the best recorded performance and is a recommendation for every opera collection.