One of Rossini’s least-known operas, Zelmira nevertheless contains much excellent music, sometimes rising to the very best Rossini has to offer. Despite a weak libretto, Zelmira was well received at its premiere in 1822 and continued to be performed for about ten years. Then it was forgotten until the historic revival of 1965, preserved on this live recording that presents all the music including additions Rossini created for the Vienna premiere. The heroine is sung by Romanian–Italian soprano Virginia Zeani (b. 1925), a singer of superb technique who participated in the revivals of many bel canto operas. She was highly praised by critics for the radiant beauty and deep expressivity of her voice. Her husband was the well-known operatic bass Nicola Rossi-Lemeni.
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