Agnes Baltsa to perform Rossini

This year is a landmark for the famous Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa as it marks an anniversary: In 1968, she made her first appearance as Cherubino in Mozart’s «Marriage of Figaro,» at the Frankfurt Opera House. That was the beginning of a great career. Her collaborations with top maestro Herbert von Karajan, who described her as the greatest dramatic mezzo-soprano of her time, and her numerous performances of «Carmen,» mostly alongside Jose Carreras, are just some of her many great moments. Special bond Baltsa has a special relationship with Gioachino Rossini’s opera buffs, having appeared in leading roles in his «Barber of Seville,» «La Cenerentola» and «L’Italiana in Algeri» – the latter of which she is preparing to perform at the Athens Concert Hall. Tomorrow, as well as on March 17, 19 and 21, the Alexandra Trianti Hall will host «L’Italiana in Algeri,» in a production in which Diana Kienast will revive Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s historical mise en scene. Ponnelle’s 1987 production featured Baltsa and Ruggero Raimondi in the leading roles under acclaimed maestro Claudio Abbado. Ponnelle also left his signature on the sets, lighting and the costumes, as the great artist viewed the staging of the famous opera as an entire work of art. «The role of Isabella is one of the greatest roles of my career,» said Baltsa at a recent press conference. «But every time feels like the first time. It is like a wager with myself, to see how my voice has changed through the years. Rossini demands great vocal discipline.» «L’Italiana in Algeri» premiered in Venice on May 22, 1813. It was the first opera, along with «Tancredi,» that earned Rossini international fame. Based on a libretto by Angelo Anelli, the opera follows Elvira’s romantic adventures at the palace of the Turkish Bey of Algiers. It has a craziness highly indicative of Rossini’s comic operas. The Athens Concert Hall production will further feature baritone Lorenzo Regazzo, tenor Mario Zeffiri, baritone Renato Girolami and soprano Vassiliki Karayianni, who recently performed in Rossini’s «Le Compte Ory» with the Greek National Opera, among others. The Athens State Orchestra will participate, under the baton of Antonello Allemandi. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333.

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