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Love Under Siege: Rossini's 'Maometto Secondo' at the Concertgebouw

Long before novelist John le Carré mixed political intrigue with a splash of romance, there was Rossini's Maometto Secondo.

Like Carré's The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, Rossini's opera is set in a walled-off city where loyalty and love struggle amid opposing political forces.

Maometto Secondo premiered in 1820, in Naples, a powerhouse for opera where a megastar such as Rossini had his pick of great singers.

He could unleash the most challenging music, and still be assured in achieving spectacular singing. Maometto Secondo is rarely heard today, partly because few singers dare risk Rossini's demanding roles, and because the opera was reworked for Paris audiences six years later with simplified music, a new French text and a new title --The Siege of Corinth.

Opera writer Richard Osborne describes Rossini's Maometto as "one of his grandest pieces of musical architecture, the two 90-minute acts built from a handful of huge, interlocking musical units. It is one of Rossini's most powerfully scored works, with a large brass contingent used to darken textures and add a declamatory element to much of the writing."

On World of Opera, host Lisa Simeone presents this powerful, and rarely performed work by Rossini in a concert performance from the luxurious acoustics of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The production features the exciting, young soprano Myrto Papatanasiu, tenor Bruce Ford and bass Michele Pertusi in the lead roles.

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