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Gioachino Rossini

3 disc set

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This is the first absolutely complete recording of the opera. Impeccably cast, the two impossible tenor parts are sung here by the Rossini experts Bruce Ford (Antenore) and Antonino Siragusa (Ilo). The... read more

Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Zelmira: Act I scena I: Introduction - Oh sciagura! 01:41
playstop02 Zelmira: Act I scena I: Ciel! che avvenne? 01:12
playstop03 Zelmira: Act I scena I: Cavatina: Che vidi! amici! oh eccesso! 03:27
playstop04 Zelmira: Act I scena I: scena: In te il suo vindice 00:46
playstop05 Zelmira: Act I scena I: Cabaletta: Sorte! secondami! 03:12
playstop06 Zelmira: Act I scena I: Recitative: Della renda real la doppia soglia 03:34
playstop07 Zelmira: Act I scena II: scena: Non fuggirmi ? 02:42
playstop08 Zelmira: Act I scena III: Cavatina: Ah! gia trascorse il di ? 04:37
playstop09 Zelmira: Act I scena IV: Recitative: Ma m'illude il desio? 00:53
playstop10 Zelmira: Act I scena IV: Trio: Soave conforto 04:50
playstop11 Zelmira: Act I scena IV: Stretta: Se trova in te scampo 03:30
playstop12 Zelmira: Act I scena IV: Recitative: Cessa il clamor 03:26
playstop13 Zelmira: Act I scena V: S'intessano agli allori 02:42
playstop14 Zelmira: Act I scena V: Cavatina: Terra amica, ove respira 03:46
playstop15 Zelmira: Act I scena V: Cabaletta: Cara! deh attendimi! 04:44
playstop16 Zelmira: Act I scena V: Recitative: Godi, o Signor: che piu a bramar ti resta? - scena VI: Oh Cielo! 04:05
playstop17 Zelmira: Act I scena VI: Duet: A che quei tronchi accenti? 03:20
playstop18 Zelmira: Act I scena VI: Andante: Ah! se caro a te son io 03:41
playstop19 Zelmira: Act I scena VI: Allegro: Dimmi ? al tuo padre e noto 01:57
playstop20 Zelmira: Act I scena VI: Stretta: Che mai pensar? che dir ? 04:10
playstop21 Zelmira: Act I scena VII: Recitative: T'intendo, istabil Diva 04:27
playstop22 Zelmira: Act I scena VII: Aria: Mentre qual fiera ingorda 03:31
playstop23 Zelmira: Act I scena VII: scena: Di luce sfavillnate 03:17
playstop24 Zelmira: Act I scena VII: Cabaletta: Ah! dopo tanti palpiti 03:07
playstop25 Zelmira: Act I scena VIII: Recitative: Emma fedel, dal tuo bel core io chieggo 03:13
playstop26 Zelmira: Act I scena VIII: Duet: Perche mi guardi e piangi 05:58
playstop27 Zelmira: Act I scena IX: Finale: Si fausto momento 03:17
playstop28 Zelmira: Act I scena IX: Andante: Si figli miei, di Lesbo 03:42
playstop29 Zelmira: Act I scena X: scena: Il figlio mio 01:47
playstop30 Zelmira: Act I scena X: scena: Eccolo! ansante 04:18
playstop31 Zelmira: Act I scena X: Quintet: La sorpresa ? lo stupore 04:53
playstop32 Zelmira: Act I scena X: scena: Alla strage ognor ti guida 01:01
playstop33 Zelmira: Act I scena X: Stretta: Fiume che glie argini 03:42
playstop34 Zelmira: Act II scena I: Recitative: Gran cose, o Re' Leucippo, Antenore 02:24
playstop35 Zelmira: Act II scena II: Pian piano inoltrisi 04:33
playstop36 Zelmira: Act II scena II: Recitative: Eccolo. A voi lo affido 01:30
playstop37 Zelmira: Act II scena II: Aria: Ciel pietoso, ciel clemente 06:37
playstop38 Zelmira: Act II scena II: Cabaletta: Ah, se e ver, di quel ch'io sento 03:24
playstop39 Zelmira: Act II scena III: Recitative: A che difendi una sleale, un'empia 06:12
playstop40 Zelmira: Act II scena III: Duet: In estasi di gioia 04:35
playstop41 Zelmira: Act II scena III: Allegro: Vieni: le navi frigie 03:08
playstop42 Zelmira: Act II scena IV: Recitative: Chi sciolse i lacci miei? - scena V: Si, mi uccidete 06:06
playstop43 Zelmira: Act II scena V: Allegro giusto: Ne' lacci miei cadesti 04:04
playstop44 Zelmira: Act II scena V: Quintet: Ah! m'illuse un sol momento! 05:39
playstop45 Zelmira: Act II scena VI: scena: Di Azor le ceneri 02:31
playstop46 Zelmira: Act II scena VI: Stretta: De' nostri torti il vindice 03:41
playstop47 Zelmira: Act II scena VI: Recitative: Periglioso e l'indugio; Ilo potria - scena VII: Emma ? non sai ? 02:02
playstop48 Zelmira: Act II scena VIII: Oh padre! il duo, l'affanno 07:21
playstop49 Zelmira: Act II scena VIII: Aria: Riedi al soglio; irata stella 04:14
playstop50 Zelmira: Act II scena VIII: Allegro: Fra piu grato un si bel dono 00:50
playstop51 Zelmira: Act II scena VIII: Rondo Finale: Deh circondatemi 04:38

This is the first absolutely complete recording of the opera. Impeccably cast, the two impossible tenor parts are sung here by the Rossini experts Bruce Ford (Antenore) and Antonino Siragusa (Ilo). The acclaimed American soprano Elizabeth Futral (Zelmira) and the gifted young Italian mezzo-soprano Manuela Custer (Emma), along with two newcomers, the basses Mirco Palazzi (Leucippo) and Marco Vinco (Polidoro) complete the distinguished line up. Zelmira was the last opera Rossini wrote for the Teatro San Carlo and it succeeds in maintaining a constant, consistent level of musical excellence. It is an opera in which we are likely to find ourselves challenged and delighted by the unexpected. The Italian critic Luigi Bellingardi described it after the 1989 performance in Rome as "a forgotten masterpiece, with page after page of beautiful melodies matched to inventive harmony and skilled vocal and orchestral writing." This recording will help gain Zelmira the recognition it deserves one of the most dramatic and carefully written of all Rossini’s operas.

Booklet includes complete libretto with English translation.

'I was throughout on the edge of my seat listening to this one' - Rodney Milnes, Opera

Bruce Ford (Antenore), Mirco Palazzi (Leucippo), Marco Vinco (Polidoro), Elizabeth Futral (Zelmira), Manuela Custer (Emma), Antonino Siragusa (Ilo), Ashley Catling (Eacide), Mathias Hausmann (High Priest), Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Maurizio Benini – conductor

Act I.  Scene One.

The curtain rises abruptly – there is no overture – on a vast plain outside the walls of the city of Lesbos.  To one side there is an imposing portal leading to the underground mausoleum of the kings of the island state.  We are greeted by a scene of confusion – demoralised troops from Mytilene wander about in disorder, for it has just been discovered that Azor, the lord of Mytilene and the invader of Lesbos, has been found murdered in his bed.  Leucippo and Antenore appear – the latter ostensibly one of Azor’s most trusted right-hand men.  They express incredulity and dismay at what has happened, and Leucippo insinuates to the Mytilenian soldiers that Antenore is the person best placed to avenge the murdered ruler, and to be his successor.

 When Leucippo and Antenore are left alone, we begin to discover the true state of affairs.  Antenore is no more nor less than an unscrupulous and ambitious opportunist who aims at the combined thrones of Mytilene and Lesbos, while Leucippo, his willing tool, has actually carried out the murder.  Antenore observes, however, that even with Azor eliminated, there are still obstacles in his path.  The old royal family of Lesbos is not yet extinct: the aged king Polidoro is generally believed dead, betrayed by his evil daughter Zelmira to Azor’s bloodlust, but Zelmira herself still lives, as well as the infant son she has borne her husband, Ilo, a prince of Troy.  Both Antenore and Leucippo agree that the blacker they can paint Zelmira, the more it will assist their cause.  With this in mind, Leucippo is already laying false leads designed to result in Zelmira’s being accused of Azor’s murder.

 We now encounter Zelmira herself, together with her friend and confidante Emma.  In this particular moment, however, Emma spurns her friend, appalled by the thought that she has been so unnatural as to deliver up her aged father to his foes.  Zelmira protests her innocence and, swearing Emma to secrecy, leads her to the entrance to the subterranean mausoleum.     

Scene Two.  The subterranean hall containing the royal tombs.  Polidoro, far from being dead, has been secretly concealed here by Zelmira.  The story she told Azor that he was being sheltered by the priests of Ceres – a story which to her horror caused Azor to burn the temple of Ceres to the ground – was only a fabrication to detract attention from his real whereabouts.  Father and daughter greet each other warmly, and Emma, overjoyed to discover Zelmira innocent of the crimes which have been imputed to her, upbraids herself for having ever doubted her. 

Distant shouts and sounds of a military march are heard, and Zelmira and Emma depart to find out what has happened.


Scene Three.  A square in the centre of Lesbos, where Ilo, Zelmira’s husband, is greeted as he returns from a campaign in defence of his states.  He looks forward to being reunited with Zelmira and his son, and, unaware of the events that have transpired in his absence, sends his trusty friend Eacide to the palace to announce his return to his father-in-law, Polidoro.

When Zelmira appears, she greets Ilo with constraint, inhibited from telling him the true state of affairs in Lesbos by the presence of a number of his men.  He is immediately aware that she is ill at ease, and becomes increasingly alarmed as she answers all his questions with prevarications.  Emma enters in haste, urging Zelmira to flee since Antenore is spreading reports that she is Azor’s murderer. 

Ilo is left dismayed and perplexed, and in this state of uncertainty is found by Antenore and Leucippo.  They pretend to commiserate with him, telling him that he had no sooner left for the wars than Zelmira had invited Azor to Lesbos and become his paramour.  Ilo, his mind increasingly poisoned, retires tormented, but not before he has overheard a delegation of priests offering Antenore the crown of Lesbos.

Harrassed on every side, Zelmira entrusts her infant son to Emma’s care.

Scene Four.  In a magnificent hall in the palace, Antenore is crowned King of Lesbos.  Declaring that his entire aim will be to restore the kingdom to its former glory, he goes to present himself to the people.

Ilo, believing himself betrayed by Zelmira, and unable to discover the whereabouts of his son, enters in the greatest mental stress, and collapses in a faint. There Leucippo finds him, and believing that the moment is ripe for eliminating a further major obstacle in Antenore’s path, he draws a dagger and advances to slay him.  He is, however, prevented from striking the blow by Zelmira, who, appearing in this moment of crisis, succeeds in disarming him.  Far from being abashed, he manages to rouse Ilo, and, showing him Zelmira standing there holding the dagger, convinces him that he has narrowly escaped being murdered by his own wife.  Antenore, who returns at this moment, orders that Zelmira be arrested and held over for punishment.

Act TwoScene One.

Leucippo brings Antenore a letter he has intercepted.  Written by Zelmira from prison, it is addressed to Ilo.  It assures him that she is no parricide, and urges him to come to her rescue.   For Antenore and Leucippo it brings the first suspicion that Polidoro may have survived the burning of the temple of Ceres, and, upon Leucippo’s advice, Antenore decides to free Zelmira and keep watch on her movements.

Emma has decided that the safest place for Zelmira’s son is in the underground mausoleum with Polidoro.  She sends two of Zelmira’s handmaidens to conduct him safely thither.

Scene Two

The plain outside the entrance to the mausoleum.  Ilo laments his inability to hate Zelmira as he believes she deserves.  He also continues to be distressed at his inability to trace his son.  But at this moment Polidoro, concerned that he has heard no more from Zelmira, emerges from his hiding-place.  Father-in-law and son-in-law throw themselves into each other’s arms, and Ilo is overjoyed to be reassured of his wife’s innocence.  He offers to conduct Polidoro to safety aboard his ship, but Polidoro believes, in his unarmed state, that he is probably safer and better off where he is.  He therefore returns to his hiding-place while Ilo hastens to gather his followers in preparation for an attempt to rescue Zelmira.

Meanwhile, however, Antenore has put into effect his ruse to release Zelmira and dog her steps.  She enters, with Antenore and Leucippo observing her from a distance.  Emma brings her news that she has just encountered Ilo, who has entrusted her with a message to say that, convinced now of her innocence, he is hastening to her relief, and looks forward to reuniting her with her father.   Overhearing this, Antenore and Leucippo come forward, accusing her of trying to deceive them.  She understandably but wrongly assumes that Ilo will have taken Polidoro on board his vessel, so no longer tries to conceal that her reporting him concealed in the temple of Ceres was a ruse to deflect suspicion from his true hiding place, the royal mausoleum.  Leucippo, who a few moments earlier had seen Ilo hastening back to his fleet – and who had noted that he was alone – immediately leads a detachment of guards into the tomb, and Zelmira realises that, all unwittingly, she has betrayed her father’s retreat.  Polidoro is led out a prisoner, and though Zelmira pleads to die in his stead, it is clear that Antenore has every intention of killing them both.  The Mytilenian warriors advance with an urn containing Azor’s ashes, calling for vengeance upon his murderer, and Antenore denounces Zelmira as the guilty party.  The warriors call for her death, while Emma and the handmaidens plead for mercy.  Zelmira and Polidoro are led away to prison.

Emma and her companions hurry to inform Ilo of the disaster that has befallen Zelmira and Polidoro, and he hastens to their rescue.

Scene Three,  The underground dungeon where Zelmira and Polidoro have been imprisoned.  Weak and exhausted, Polidoro has fainted, but Zelmira tenderly watches over him until he regains consciousness.  The door to the dungeon opens, and Antenore and Leucippo appear, intent upon their murderous mission.  Zelmira throws herself before her father, determined to shield him from their blows.  She even suggests that he would be willing to relinquish the throne in return for his life, but Polidoro sternly rejects such a proposal. 

At this moment noises from without announce the approach of Ilo and his men.  Antenore draws his sword to slay Polidoro, but Zelmira produces a dagger which she has had concealed about her, and succeeds in holding him at bay until one wall of the dungeon, battered from without, collapses and allows entry to the rescuing forces.  Antenore and Leucippo are disarmed and led away to their fate.  Ilo is reunited with Zelmira and Polidoro, and Emma and the handmaidens appear with Zelmira’s son.  The opera ends as Polidoro prepares to remount his throne, and Zelmira expresses her wonderment that so many trials and sufferings should so suddenly and unexpectedly be succeeded by joy and celebration.

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