Rossini in Salzburg

All you loyal readers of my post on the Old Stage in Copenhagen might recall that when the composer Gioacchino Rossini was 22 years old, in 1814, he composed an opera called Il Turco in Italia (“The Turk in Italy”) for the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. He was hoping, evidently, to repeat the huge success he had scored with “The Italian Girl in Algiers” the year before.

Then as now, a sequel is usually not as good as the original, but “The Turk in Italy” is still quite clever and funny and is worth seeing if you get the chance. And the music is vintage Rossini. I have seen “The Turk in Italy” not only at old Danish Royal Theater in Copenhagen, but also in an open-air production in the Palmengarten in Frankfurt and now at the State Theatre in Salzburg. (And yes, I am listening to a recording of it as I write this.)

In Salzburg stage director Marco Dott gave this opera a special twist by setting in on a cruise ship — not just any cruise ship, but the Costa Concordia, which hit some rocks and sank off the coast of Italy on January 13, 2012.

Welcoming the conductor after the performance

Here soprano Hannah Bradbury is welcoming the orchestra conductor to the stage, which is something sopranos usually do at the end of an opera. The people in orange life vests are members of the chorus.

Taking their bows during the applause at the end of “Il Turco in Italia”

From left to right: Mezzo-Soprano Rowan Hellier as Zaida; Baritone Simon Schnorr as the poet Prosdocimo; Bass-Baritone Pietro di Bianco as the Turkish prince Selim; the orchestra conductor Adrian Kelly; Soprano Hannah Bradbury as Donna Fiorilla; Baritone Sergio Foresti as Don Geronio; and Tenor Carlos Cardoso as Don Narciso. The opera was sung in the original Italian, with German surtitles projected above the stage.


Here in the orchestra pit is a fortepiano, an early form of piano that was still in use in the early 19th century.

Like many other operas, Il Turco in Italia includes recitatives (rapid half-sung dialogues that advance the plot). These were accompanied on the fortepiano by Adrian Kelly, who stood up at the end of each recitative to conduct the orchestra from here.

Unlike the singers, the fortepiano is equipped with a microphone, because it is nowhere near as loud as a modern piano.

My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2024.

Next: Stormy Interlude by Max Brand.
See more posts on Salzburg, Austria.
See more posts on the composer Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868).


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