The great writer Stendhal wrote of Il viaggio a Reims that “this opera is a feast”. The plot is a contemporary farce tailor-made for a particular occasion—the coronation festivities of Charles X—though Rossini valued the music so highly that he reused at great part of the score three years later in the opera Le Comte Ory. With a cast of ten principal and eight smaller rôles, this sparkling work is heard complete for the first time and in accordance with the critical edition prepared by the Fondazione Rossini and Casa Ricordi.
Claudio Abbado is one of the leading conductors of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He has held a number of prestigious posts, any one of which would be a crowning achievement for a conductor, and his musical presence in both concert and recordings has left an undeniable legacy of excellence. His family traces its roots to a prominent Moorish family expelled from Spain in 1492 and is said to include the architect of the Alhambra. His father was Michelangelo Abbado, a violinist and teacher who gave both Claudio and his brother, Marcello Abbado, their first piano and music lessons (Marcello has gone on to become a pianist and composer). Claudio was educated at the Milan Conservatory, graduating in 1955 with a certificate in piano. ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi
The Naxos label has done a wonderful job of providing opera-lovers with inexpensive recordings of both repertory and rare operas. This recording of Rossini's perennial "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" sets a standard which will be hard to sustain. The orchestra, a group of players from the Hungarian State Opera, are lively and alert to the musical presentation desired by conductor Humburg. The soloists are, with few exceptions, wonderful. Roberto Servile in the title role is as good as modern baritones get in the role–he sings well and is having a marvelous time of it. Franco de Grandis sings splendidly as Don Basilio. Sonia Ganassi, singing Rosina, brings good coloratura technique to Rossini's sometimes fiendish writing, but somehow lacks those indefinable qualities which make a great Rosina…
Il Turco in Italia is one of Rossini‘s wittiest but most neglected works. It is full of ingenious and freshly composed invention. It is Rossini‘s fi rst collaboration with Felice Romani - Bellini‘s librettist - on this opera and Romani understood perfectly Rossini‘s love of pastiche and parody. He provided a commedia dell‘ arte scenario that gave Rossini plenty of opportunity to mock traditions he had helped to cultivate in the first place. The plot is delightfully salcious and among the many jewels in the score, the duet for Geronio and Selim, in which the Turk tries to persuade the ageing husband to sell his wife to him, is widely considered one of the composer‘s masterpieces.
This DVD is in fact the "break a leg" version which sees Joyce DiDonato perform her role in a wheelchair - a story which has occupied international headlines last year - and definitely a DVD which will stand out. The DVD will include bonus features like an interview with Joyce on her stage accident and subsequent wheelchair performances… (Opera News)
“Here's a Barbiere light of heart and light of touch, graceful in style, with fresh, youngsounding voices (where appropriate), well schooled so as to make those forbiddingly difficult vocal flights sound like flights of fancy, quick as thought and natural as intuition.
It's a concert performance and carries with it a real sense of enjoyment. The Overture moves with relish as from one good thing to another, and movement is the motto for most of the first act. Fiorello and the chorus are no clod-hoppers and the Count is no show-off. 'Ecco ridente' has the assurance of a young aristocrat who has practised his scales and scorns the use of aspirates.( Gramophone )
The cast for this Teatro Real de Madrid production is outstanding across the board. Figaro is the glue of any successful Barber— he moves the action ahead and the audience must look forward to his every appearance, vocally and dramatically. From the first bars of “Largo al factotum della città,” we know Pietro Spagnoli’s got the goods, with a satisfyingly solid and nimble baritone and a natural elegance to his movements on stage. Bruno Praticò is a prime basso buffo practitioner, impressively adept with the patter of Bartolo’s first act aria, his representation of the not-so-good Doctor suitably ridiculous, abetted by a Tweedledum/Tweedledee sort of costume. As Don Basilio, veteran Ruggero Raimondi exudes a perfect blend of decrepitude and cunning; if his voice is no longer as resplendent as it was 20 years ago, he still has a wonderful stage presence.
From start to finish, this performance of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia from the Metropolitan Opera House sparkles with comedic flair and stunning virtuoso singing. If you really want to have an excellent Barbiere from both a musical and dramatic perspective, this is one of the best performances on video. The cast is simply a delight. Leo Nucci is captured in great voice and stage presence as Figaro, one of his best roles. "Largo al Factotum" is on this performance a real show stopper, with Nucci showcasing his vocal and scenic agility, projecting the text with expression and tossing some fine high A's. During the rest of the opera Nucci is always engaging, a Figaro both intelligent and funny. Kathleen Battle is the perfect soprano Rosina. Her singing here is a real lesson on bel canto…