At the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival, Gianandrea Noseda leads the Teatro Regio Torino in a concert performance of Rossini's William Tell that offers enormous variety without quite hitting the bull's eye.
Attila, Verdi’s ode to Italy (one of them), made its world première in Venice to huge bursts of patriotic feeling. “You can have the universe, but leave Italy for me!” exclaimed the Roman general Ezio, and the audience erupted. Small wonder: the opera appeared at the height of the Risorgimento, when Italy was in the process of unifying into one state.
In the end, the big man gets the last laugh. Come to think of it, he also gets the first laugh, but for different reasons: you sense that Verdi steadily grew to love Falstaff in the course of writing the opera, as he turns from a coarse buffoon into a maligned old man and, eventually, into the spirit of laughter itself.
Iolanta and Francesca da Rimini work particularly well as a double bill because both works share the theme of lovers who find themselves at the mercy of possessive forces. Iolanta's domineering father ultimately yields in Tchaikovsky's opera, but in Rachmaninov's the deceitful Lanceotto is not so accommodating.