Philips' reissue of its 1991 recording of Il Turco in Italia is a welcome addition to the catalog. While it may not surpass Riccardo Chailly's Gramophone Award-winning version with Cecilia Bartoli on London, its cast is strong and the performance offers many charms. Rossini's cleverly structured farce within a farce offers a wealth of opportunities for singers with a gift for comedy to sparkle. In the central role of Fiorilla, soprano Sumi Jo has all the resources to negotiate Rossini's limpid melodies and vocal fireworks, but doesn't have the comic gifts to fully exploit the character's outrageous behavior. As the Turk, Simone Alaimo sings with warmth and a full, supple tone, and he does a good job communicating the humor of his character's romantic machinations. Enrico Fissore as Don Geronio, Fiorilla's old husband, fully inhabits the stock character of the foolish cuckold. Susanne Mentzer seems to be having a ball as the gypsy Zaida, and she sings with beautiful, rounded tone. Raúl Gimenez tackles the role of Don Narciso, Fiorilla's rejected suitor, with zest, and while his voice is not large, he makes the most of his romantic solos. Neville Marriner leads the Ambrosian Opera Chorus and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields with just the right fleet, irreverent touch. Philips' sound is mostly good, but occasionally the voices get lost under the orchestra.
Rossini: Il Turco in Italia Review
by Stephen Eddins