I quatro rusteghi (The Four Curmudgeons, The Four Ruffians, in Edward J. Dent's translation School for Fathers) is a comic opera in three acts, music by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari to a text by Luigi Sugana and Giuseppe Pizzolato based on Carlo Goldoni's 18th-century play I rusteghi. The opera is written in Venetian dialect, hence "quatro" instead of "quattro".
The "100 Years of Italian Opera" series released by Opera Rara is unique in the annals of opera recordings. However, this installment is especially exciting as it documents the evolution of Italian opera during the 1820's, the decade when romanticism truly began to come into its own on the operatic stage. Opera Rara has lovingly compiled a variety of arcana written by composers famous and forgotten. Included is everything from overtures to arias, duets, ensembles, and entire scenes.
The aria Ombra mai fu at the start of Act I of Handel's opera seria Serse (Xerxes) is likely to be its best-known asset. Serse was written in 1733-38, at the end of Handel's career as an opera composer: he concentrated on oratorio after 1741. It is a great achievement. Not least because it uses the music, and the marriage of words and music, to evoke in the audience pathos, sympathy, delight, and as much tempered ridicule as tempered tenderness.