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.
For his first opera production, Dario Fo, the theatre director known for his brilliant wit, chose to stage Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Netherlands Opera. First mounted in 1987, it was a huge success and a live recording of its revival in May 1992, the 200th anniversary of Rossini's birth, has been made. Fo has said that 'Rossini is the musician of eating and love. He composes music rich in herbs and aromas, in which you find olives, tomatoes, fish, grapes, roses and rosemary, sheets and tablecloths, dry wine and the laughter of girls.' His 'Barbiere' is a joyful carnival. During the overture he fills the stage with carnival revellers and immediately the commedia dell'arte origins of opera buffa are restored. Visual theatrics abound, never at the expense of the music, but highlighting it, engaging the eye as well as the ear. Fo addresses the heart more than the intellect and Rossini's comedy comes up dazzling and vital.
Cecilia Bartoli remains one of the world's finest Rossini singers and she proves it again with Il Turco in Italia, her 1st complete Rossini recording since 1993. The performance was recorded in Milan, with the power of the La Scala Orchestra & Chorus and the best Rossini an cast possible, led - of course - by Cecilia Bartoli's coloratura, more brilliant than ever.
Of Rossini’s thirty-nine operas Il barbiere di Siviglia is the only one to have remained in the repertoire since its composition. When the composer met Beethoven in Vienna the great man told Rossini to only compose buffa operas like Il Barbiere. Verdi was also a great admirer of the work as he was of Rossini’s opera seria and particularly his William Tell. Il Barbiere was one of the works Rossini squeezed in during his contract as Musical Director of the Royal Theatres at Naples and where he was supposed to present two new works every year.
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.
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)