It saddens me to see that so many people have written negative reviews of this performance, which I consider to be one of the best opera videos currently available. It's not a traditional production – indeed, we're probably never going to see anything like this again – but isn't that the whole point? This production is unique, maybe even infuriating at times, but it never stops being interesting. I also happened to find it incredibly entertaining…Amazon.com
Captured live at London’s Royal Opera House, this Barbiere, with its unbeatable cast and the directors’ characteristic wit and intelligence, offers a unique dramatic twist: Joyce DiDonato, who had broken her leg on the opening night, went on with the show. As she said: “Being trapped in the wheelchair was a quite literal way of demonstrating Rosina's huge desire to break free.
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.
In Parma, where audiences are considered the most discerning in all Italy, the benchmark for vocal artists is set traditionally high. Operagoers here are intimately familiar with the works of their favourites, from Rossini to Puccini, and know every tricky corner by heart. God forbid any singer who fails to accomplish the task without due seemliness Unsurprisingly, then, this performance attempts no directorial experiments. The main setting for this realistically inspired production both indoors and out is Rosinas house, which is converted as required into its constituent parts.
Claudio Abbado’s youthful Beatlecut marks the age of this film‚ still one of the better screen Barbieres if not absolutely the best. JeanPierre Ponnelle based it on his Scala stagings‚ but filmed it‚ as he always preferred‚ in studio and in lipsync – more successfully than most. As a result‚ it looks and sounds very much fresher on DVD than contemporary videotapes.
The stellar cast of this popular opera includes superb singers as well as excellent actors like Kathleen Battle, Leo Nucci, Rockwell Blake, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Enza Dara
Critical praise for this production: “One of [the Met’s] most ingenious stagings in recent years…made to order for a great Rossini ensemble” (New York Times ) – and for this ensemble: “Battle’s coloratura flowed with astonishing ease and grace, beautifully varied in color” (New York Times). “Alongside Battle’s stunning Rosina, the cast is close to ideal…Blake’s Almaviva is extraordinary…Nucci is a remarkable Figaro…Furlanetto makes a formidable Basilio, Dara an irresistible Bartolo” (Répertoire)
Il turco in Italia has too long been regarded as a cheap knockoff composed by Rossini to capitalize on the great success of L’italiana in Algeri. In fact, the later opera has the superior libretto, and is markedly bolder in its technical demands and use of exotic colors. It isn’t as often performed, but when it is done with the energy and flair shown in this production of Pesaro’s Rossini Opera Festival, it works very well.FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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