What a lot of fun. The brilliant Rossini composed this opera at the age of 22 and it was premiered in Milan in 1814. The opera has had a chequered history. It was compared unfavourably to his previous success, L’italiana in Algeri and a version of the opera was rewritten in Paris by the Director, Ferdinando Paer, which stripped out a lot of Rossini’s original music, but included pieces from other operas, including L’italiana in Algeri. Unbelievably, this astonishing version was used a lot during the 20th century, until Franco Zeffirelli’s production with Maria Callas in the title role used the original version, but unaccountably excluding Fiorilla’s great concluding aria of despair.