Rossini was 24 years old when in 1816 he wrote his seventeenth and most famous opera The Barber of Seville in an astonishing three weeks. Michael Hampe’s humorous direction of his 1988 live performance at the Schwetzingen SWR Festival stands out with its fast tempo that makes for a highly exuberant production. Ezio Firgerio’s appealing stage and Mauro Pagano’s colourful costumes heighten the comic effect. The musical direction of conductor Gabriele Ferro strikes a beautiful balance between a vibrant orchestral performance and a superb ensemble of singers. The irresistible Cecilia Bartoli as Rosina leads a cast that also includes David Kuebler, Gino Quilico and Carlos Feller.
"La scala di seta" is an operatic farsa comica in one act by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Giuseppe Maria Foppa. It was first performed in Venice, Italy, at the Teatro San Moisè on 9 May 1812. The overture has been frequently recorded and continues to be featured in the modern concert repertoire.
From 1810 to 1813, the young Rossini composed four Italian farse, beginning with La cambiale di matrimonio (The Bill of Marriage), his first opera, and ending with Il Signor Bruschino. These types of short pieces were popular in Venice at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. The pieces were intimate, with a cast of five to seven singers, always including a pair of lovers, at least two comic parts, and one or two other minor roles. The style called for much visual comedy improvised by the players. As compared to many genres of opera, acting and comedic talent is more important relative to the required singing ability. Rossini’s farces also have a significant sentimental element.
…Massimo Checchetto’s opening set…is winningly picturesque…Bepi Morassi’s staging within it seems perfectly natural, its charms never forced. Pratt has a beautiful, expressive face, ever alive to Amina’s changing fortunes and her unchanging love. Her voice, too, is lovely and expressive…She’s endearingly simple, just as Amina should be. Gabriele Ferro conducts the Fenice forces with grace and practiced style…The sound is spacious and the Blu-ray image crystal clear. (Opera News)