Il Turco in Italia

Gioachino Rossini
The Royal Opera
Royal Opera House

It Turco in Italia is revived for the third time at Royal Opera House, popping from the stage in a brightly coloured explosion. Sadly the music doesn’t sparkle so vibrantly.

Rossini wrote thirty-nine operas, yet it’s rare to see more than a select few staged. It’s wonderful that ROH has billed this less widely-seen comedy three times in ten years. Many of the cast have remained the same since the 2010 revival, and the drama certainly rolls along with great pacing and comic ease.

Directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier have set this opera within an opera in 1950s Italy, providing a wonderful excuse for Sophie Loren style glamour and a few cars onstage. Costumes (Agostina Cavalca) are no less lurid than the set, our spurned lover Don Narciso (Barry Banks) wears a suit of all yellow and poet (Thomas Allen) sunbathes under the brim of a great panama hat.

Vocally, Aleksandra Kurzak (Fiorilla) is the star of the show, dazzling with elegantly and seamless colaratura. Thomas Allen’s voice is a little past his prime, but he certainly knows how to deliver Italian recitative—he whisks us through the comedy with great vigour.

Although lacking projection, Allesandro Corbelli (Fiorilla’s long suffering husband) is hilarious; this poor cuckolded man gets the best gags. Both Ilderando D’arcangelo and Barry Banks prove they have fine instruments but make heavy work of the coloratura required.

The colourful sets (Christian Fenouillat) leap from the stage, and the show is full of witty staging—it should equate to a night of toe-tapping fizz. So why I am left feeling underwhelmed?

It’s the uninspired orchestra conducted by Evelino Pido that fails to bring this show to life. The tempi never reach top gear; it’s a very bland rendition of Rossini. This is perhaps some fault of Rossini himself; it isn’t until act two that his music really contains the variety we so love in his operas.

Without Pido pulling out all the stops, there is no frisson of excitement usually generated by Rossini’s scores, and the show lacks the energy the carnival design demands.

Reviewer: Louise Lewis

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