Review By Paul Pelkonen,Superconductor,July 2012
It is a testament to the industry of Giaochino Rossini that opera companies and festivals are still finding fresh works by the composer to perform. One of the rarest is the Biblical drama Ciro in Babilonia (Cyrus in Babylon)…
The opportunity to hear this rarity was due to the presence of contralto Ewa Podles in the title role. Ms. Podles is one of the world’s leading contraltos…She…possesses a magnetic stage presence to go with formidable vocal technique. Her claque was there in loud support. They were rewarded with an impressive, magesterial performance.
Review By Gwynn Roberts,Fine Music,December 2007
This Naxos double CD of the oratorio-opera was released in February this year, and features the rising young Italian singers Riccardo Notta as Belshazzar and Anna Rita Gemmabella in the breeches role of Cyrus. All the soloists handle the delightful tunes provided by the youthful Rossini with high competence and professionalism…The work was recorded live at the Rossini in wildbad Festival held in Bad Wildbad, Germany, in 2004, in consideration of which there is remarkably little audience noise, apart from the applause after each aria. Of particular interest is the aria Chi disprezza gl’infelici, all sung on just one note, which Rossini wrote for a mezzo whose voice he considered was ‘beneath contempt’, but who had one single note, the B flat
There’s a felicitous intimacy about this recording, helped by Rossini’s ever-present melodic invention, which adequately compensates for Aventi’s dramatically impoverished libretto.more....
Review By Robert J Farr,MusicWeb International,May 2007
"Although Ciro in Babilonia was announced as a drama with chorus, or oratorio, to facilitate its performance in Lent, it is essentially Rossini’s early attempt at opera seria. As Ferrara had not seen L’Inganno Felice the composer re-used its overture with minor amendments. The celebratory chorus of the Babylonians is appropriately jolly as is that for some of the other serious situations in the work; in this respect it is no different to works by Donizetti or early Verdi. But the music also has its sophisticated moments and the composer did not hesitate to draw on parts of it for inclusion in his mature and orchestrally sophisticated Naples opera seria such as Mose in Egitto, his Lenten work of 1818 and which like
"This recording is of the revised edition from manuscripts of the period edited by Urs Schaffer 1984 but in a new version for Rossini in Wildbad by Antonino Fogliani. In listening to the work the variation in sophistication is frequently obvious. It also shows many signs of the works to come such as echoes of Tancredi, which followed in February 1813 at Venice’s premiere theatre, La Fenice. This work and L’Italiana in Algeri, three months later, set Rossini apart from the proliferation of contemporary competitors and ensured his future as an operatic composer."
"Anna Rita Gemmabella’s Ciro is the pick of the bunch. She sang the minor part of Carlotta in the Naxos recording of Torvaldo e Dorliska also from Bad Wildbad, where I found her singing vocally distinctive. Here, her flexible contralto is heard to good effect with strong characterisation overcoming the stop-start caused by the applause (CD 2 tr.11)."
"As Zambiri, the young bass Woitek Gierlach, a name new to me but who featured on Naxos’s recording of Meyerbeer’s Semiramide from Bad Wildbad, sings strongly and with sonority."
As Baldassare Riccardo Botta sings strongly, having a pleasing mid-voice tone".
"The performance serves as an introduction to this early Rossini work which has many pointers to his later opera seria. The booklet has an excellent introductory essay, a similarly skilled track-related synopsis and track listing."