Tancredi, which was based on Tasso’s epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata and was first heard in 1813, is most widely remembered for its overture, but this excellent Naxos set makes a strong case for the piece. It completely displaces the previous versions from Sony and RCA, and the eminent Rossini scholar and conductor, Alberto Zedda, proves a far more resilient, generally brisker and lighter Rossini interpreter than his predecessors. Sumi Jo is superb as the heroine, Amenaide, in dazzlingly clear coloratura, as well as imaginative pointing of phrase, rhythm and words. The mezzo, Ewa Podles, is less characterful, yet the voice is firm and rich as well as flexible; but it is the tenor, Standord Olsen, previously heard as Belmonte on John Eliot Gardiner’s recording of Entführung, who offers some of the freshest, most stylish and sweetly tuned singing from a Rossini tenor in recent years. The recording is a little lacking in body, but that partly reflects the use of a small orchestra, and the voices come over well. An Italian libretto is provided but no translation. Instead, a helpful synopsis is geared to the different tracks on the discs; had there been a libretto, this could well have received a Rosette.–Penguin Guide
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The Naxos budget label has offered many fine, modern opera recordings at an unbeatable price and this new set of Rossini's first dramatic opera is in the best traditions of the house. Alberto Zedda leads his Bruges chamber forces in a spirited and energetic reading that still offers plenty of room for Rossini's arias and cantilenas to breathe. The singers range from good to excellent, with Polish mezzo Ewa Podles a wonder in the title role, her vocal range extending from a warm contralto to glittering top notes. Podles' many duets with the fresh clarion soprano of Sumi Jo as Amenaide are the set's highlights. With wonderfully clear, rich sonics, this performance of Rossini's infrequently recorded dramatic opera would be a top choice, regardles of the price.