Sunday, February 11, 2018

Barihunk Alex Esposito featured in two Rossini anniversaries

Alex Esposito
Italian barihunk Alex Esposito will be featured in two Rossini anniversaries within 30 days of each other.

The first will be a (slightly premature) celebration of the 150th anniversary of the composer's death with a performance of his Petite Messe Solennelle. The actual date of death of Rossini is November 13, 1868.

The first will be on February 19 at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, followed by a performance on February 20 with the Berliner Philharmonie. Both casts include soprano Lauren Michelle, countertenor Bejun Mehta and tenor Francesco Demuro under the baton of Marc Minkowski.

Alex Esposito sings "Quoniam tu solus sanctus" from Petite Messe Solennelle:

Petite Messe Solennelle was written in 1863, thirty years after the composer's official retirement and thirty-four years after his last opera. The piece was originally composed for twelve singers (four of them soloists), two pianos and harmonium, but he later created an orchestral version. That version was never performed in his lifetime because he could not obtain permission to perform it with female singers in a church.

The bass solo aria in the piece is "Quoniam tu solus sanctus" (For You alone are Holy) from the Gloria, which after a short introduction, marked adagio, leads to an extended section, marked Allegro moderato with contrasts in dynamics.

Esposito has also recorded Petite Messe Solennelle with Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

Alex Esposito sings "Cade dal ciglio" from Mosè in Egitto:

Esposito will then head to the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples for the 200th anniversary of Rossini's Mosè in Egitto, which premiered at the theater on March 5, 1818. He will perform the role of the Pharoah. There will be four performances between March 15-20 and the cast includes hunkentenor Enea Scala as Osiride and barihunk Mirco Palazzi as Mosè, for the March 17th performance. The Barihunks team will be in attendance! Tickets and additional cast information is available online.

The opera is loosely based on the Exodus from Egypt of the Israelites led by Moses. It opens as the plague of darkness is dispelled by Moses' prayer, and it ends with the spectacle of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh's host. Billed in 1818 as an azione tragico-sacra, the sacred drama with some features of the oratorio circumvented proscriptions of secular dramatic performances during Lent.

Rossini slightly revised the opera in 1819, when he introduced Moses' prayer-aria "Dal tuo stellato soglio", which became one of the most popular opera pieces of the day and which inspired a set of variations for violin and piano by Niccolò Paganini.

Mirco Palazzi and Enea Scala
The opera has only had sporadic performances outside of Italy and France. In the U.K. it was performed for 142 years after its premiere in 1822, and then not revived again until 1994. The Welsh National Opera staged it again in 2014 in Cardiff and on tour. This is the production that will be seen in Naples next month.

In the U.S., Mosè in Egitto had not been heard in Chicago since 1865, but it was presented in that city by the Chicago Opera Theater in 2010 and subsequently by the New York City Opera in April 2013.

In 1827 Rossini revised the work with a new title, Moïse et Pharaon, ou Le passage de la Mer Rouge for performances in his adopted home of Paris. 


  1. Alex Exposito is fabulous! in every sense!!!

  2. I watched Alex Esposito grow over the years I lived in Italy. He's a remarkable talent and a real barihunk.