Gioachino Rossini - Mose in Egitto - "Involto in fiamma" (June Anderson, Ernesto Palacio, Zehava Gal & Salvatore Fisichella)


Well, it seems we have progressively moved from cavatinas to terzets, so I decided to post a quartet from "Mose in Egitto" as the next piece. "Mose in Egitto" is one of Rossini's most exciting scores. It basically belongs to the genre of staged oratorio cultivated in Italy in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries for performance during Lent (Donizetti's "Il diluvio universale" follows the tradition). Essentially a three-act opera seria on a biblical subject, it tells the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt under the leadership of Moses and includes three of the ten plagues suffered by the Egyptians because of Pharaoh's refusal to liberate the Israelites. But the center of the story is occupied by a love affair between the Pharaoh's son (Osiride) and an Israelite girl (Elcia); Osiride, not wishing to lose Elcia (who has become his wife), incites Pharaoh's obstinacy, which leads to Osiride's death (as part of the final plague, the slaying of the first-born). Much like "La donna del lago", the opera opens without an overture: three octave C's in the orchestra are followed by the plague of darkness. Each act centers on a long ensemble: the reaction to the return of light; the reaction to the discovery of the love between Elcia and Osiride (the presented piece), and the hymn of praise by the Israelites just before they cross through the Red Sea (the rightly famous "Dal tuo stellato soglio"). But the opera also features other superb pieces: a duet for Elcia and Osiride (which I have already uploaded as a part of the compilation "Tornami a dir che m'ami"); and an extended aria for Elcia (Osiride's death occurs in the middle of it). The opera united only two starts of the Quintet: Nozzari and Colbran as the lovers; as well as several of the star comprimario singers, including Benedetti as the title hero, though his part is only the third biggest. Anyway, the present ensemble is rather conventional structurally and, indeed, narratively. It's basically a prolonged reaction of Osiride's Mother, Amaltea, and Elcia's compatriot, Aronne, at the sight of the prince's and the young girl's tender meeting. We again get a classical series of opening phrases for all four, and a rather boring one at that. But what follow then is one of Rossini's most tender passages, "Mi manca la voce", where each voice is perfectly connected into a luminous ensemble. When the characters return to the real world, Elcia, suddenly ashamed of her "unchrisitian" behavior, asks Osiride to return to the affairs of the State and to leave her to her "misery and tears". The final allegro is highly effective as all characters hurry off the stage, unable to understand their predicament. June Anderson, Ernesto Palacio (in one of the pair's best recordings), Zehava Gal and Salvatore Fisichella (talk about lavish casting (!)) are the four singers who enact this piece for our pleasure. Enjoy :)! P.S. I'm thinking of uploading a full finale next, perhaps, the First Act Finale from "La donna del lago". All in all, I still have two or three solo scenes, two duets, one terzet, two quartets and three finales that I'm going to post in the next two weeks :)!

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