Adina, just as in the case of Ricciardo e Zoraide, was composed by Rossini exactly 200 years ago, commissioned by an unknown gentleman for his beloved prima donna. The tight schedule is the reason for the patchwork character of the opera: of the nine numbers only four were composed directly by Rossini for this work, the others were borrowed from Sigismondo, or composed by one of Rossini’s trusted collaborators.

<i>Adina</i> in Pesaro © Studio Amatio Bacciardi
Adina in Pesaro
© Studio Amatio Bacciardi

The subject is (once again) an orientalist tale. Adina is a slave in a Baghdad seraglio; the caliph falls in love and wishes to marry her. Believing her beloved Selimo dead, she accepts the proposal, out of gratitude, hoping to improve her condition. But Selimo, very much still alive, shows up and tries to plan her escape. When their attempt is discovered, Califo, furious, sentences Selimo to death, until it is discovered that Adina is, actually, his daughter. A satisfying happy end ensues.

The extremely camp production by Rosetta Cucchi featured a gigantic white and blue wedding cake, where Adina lives on the second tier; the ground floor was Califo's hammam, and the top floor a jail (where Selimo was imprisoned). The stage was full of characters, gardeners perfecting hedge sculptures, cooks decorating the enormous cake, a marching band always ready to play but never quite managing to, some hilarious guards dressed as stereotypical “men in black” with brightly coloured toy machine guns. The plastic bride and groom on top of the cake became animated, acting as a sort of double of Adina and Selimo. The make-up of the “groom” was particularly successful and funny.

Vito Priante (Califo) and Matteo Macchioni (Alì) © Studio Amatio Bacciardi
Vito Priante (Califo) and Matteo Macchioni (Alì)
© Studio Amatio Bacciardi

Other characters were reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland: a mad hatter who tries to help Adina escape, the two maids looking like Alice herself. The characters crowded the entrance to the theatre, greeting the audience, who could find also fake press reviews, in several languages, announcing the wedding of Adina and Califo. Everything contributed to create a sense of fairy-tale, of wonder. Sometimes the abundance of characters on stage was distracting, but overall the production was a success.

Conductor Diego Matheuz drove the Orchestra Sinfonica Gioachino Rossini with energy and precision, with somewhat dry phrasing, illustrating all the different changes of affect and atmosphere on stage. In the finale, starting with a quartet, the orchestra turned to more lyrical expressions, and then exploded with happiness in the final cabaletta.

Lisette Oropesa (Adina) © Studio Amatio Bacciardi
Lisette Oropesa (Adina)
© Studio Amatio Bacciardi

Lisette Oropesa gave a splendid rendition as Adina. Her voice was brilliant, shiny on top, warm and round in the middle. Her coloratura was sparkling and perfectly supported: her bel canto technique absolutely on point. Oropesa's interpretation was ironic with no exaggerations: she moved from the bright chirping of the silly, somewhat spoilt girl to deeper, more pathetic feelings of love, terror and relief in the end.

Vito Priante was a gentlemanly, almost aloof Califo, warming up with rage only after the discovery of the escape attempt. His singing was elegant and noble, his voice strong and commanding, with perfect sillabato. Levy Sekgapane was Selimo, Adina’s lover, his very light tenor lacked projection, but the style was good, and his high notes strong and confident.

Lisette Oropesa (Adina) and Levy Sekgapane (Selimo) © Studio Amatio Bacciardi
Lisette Oropesa (Adina) and Levy Sekgapane (Selimo)
© Studio Amatio Bacciardi

Davide Giangregorio, as Mustafà, Selimo’s friend, showed a powerful baritone and a very good stage presence, while Matteo Macchioni, as the eunuch Alì, had clearly a lot of fun in the most camp character of the opera. He made the most of his aria di sorbetto, singing of voluble, silly women while rummaging through Adina’s clothes and wearing high sparkling heels on fishnet socks.

A special mention goes to the Coro del Teatro della Fortuna, precise and elegant in their delivery, whilst running around on stage in the most outrageous costumes and situations.