Those who enjoyed (at least aurally) the Met’s recent La Donna del Lago may be craving more of the master from Pesaro, so 2015’s final “Trove Thursday” presents Torvaldo e Dorliska featuring stylish Rossinians Lella Cuberli, Lucia Valentini-Terrani (pictured), Pietro Bottazzo and Enzo Dara.  

Veteran Alberto Zedda, still active at 87, conducts this fine 1975 Italian Radio broadcast of one of Rossini’s least-known works, an ebullient semiserio that premiered in Rome in 1815, just before Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

The odd man out in the sterling cast is bass-baritone Siegmund Nimsgern who was usually heard in dramatic German roles like Pizarro in Fidelio (which accounts for thirteen of his fourteen Met appearances) or Telramund in Lohengrin. He did, however, sing several other surprising roles for RAI including Hidraot/Ubalde in Gluck’s opera opposite the Armide of Viorica Cortez (!) and Roger in a well-known broadcast of Verdi’s Jérusalem with that 1970s “dream-team” of Katia Ricciarelli and José Carreras.

Nimsgern also performed in Florence under Riccardo Muti in Nabucco (fathering Cristina Deutekom) and in the title role of another Rossini opera, Guglielmo Tell.

The rest of Torvaldo’s deluxe cast too appeared mostly in Europe and also in just one or two roles at the Met—American soprano Cuberli was its first Semiramide since Nellie Melba; Valentini-Terrani early in her career spelled Marilyn Horne for four outings as Rossini’s Isabella; and Bottazzo’s Ferrando won over Teresa Zylis-Gara’s Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte during the ‘71-’72 season. Buffo exemplar Dara, a pillar of Claudio Abbado’s legendary Rossini performances in the 70s and 80s, appeared at the Met as just Dulcamara and Barbiere’s Don Bartolo but still racked up nearly 60 appearances.

Rossini: Torvaldo e Dorliska
RAI Milan
23 December 1975

Dorliska: Lella Cuberli
Carlotta: Lucia Valentini Terrani
Torvaldo: Pietro Bottazzo
Duke of Ordow: Siegmund Nimsgern
Giorgio: Enzo Dara
Ormondo: Gianni Socci

Chorus and orchestra of RAI Milan
Alberto Zedda

Next week “Trove Thursday” kicks off 2016 with a marvelous but rarely heard Slavic opera. Meanwhile, Torvaldo, Rameau’s wintry Les Boréades and the rest of this year’s offerings are available listening in the New Year via download from iTunes or any RSS reader.