"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.
Rossini's sparkling La scala di seta of 1812 weaves a burlesque tale of gentlemen climbing in and out of a lady's bedchamber on a silken ladder. Damiano Michieletto's modern-day production from the Rossini Festival in Pesaro sets the action in the two room apartment of the heroine Giulia, sung with 'wonderful suppleness' (Opernwelt) by Olga Peretyatko. The production also features a spectacular grand aria for Blansac (Carlo Lepore) extraneous to the work. Leading a young and spirited cast of Rossini specialists is maestro Claudio Scimone, a key figure in the international Rossini Renaissance.
These video recordings all from the Schwetzingen opera festival were recorded in the late 80s and early 90s and originally released on laser disk on the Teldec label.
Brilliant's breezy survey of Rossini's one-act operas is assembled from five different recordings originally released on the Claves label in the early '90s. All were well received in their original form, and since all five were conducted by the veteran Marcello Viotti in similar-enough-for-non-audiophile acoustics, they make a convincing box set, and an attractive buy for those looking for a lighthearted Rossini infusion. The packaging is minimal, and the included libretti are in Italian only, so if you're counting on a translation you'll have to find it somewhere else. Viotti's work is exemplary and idiomatic throughout, always putting Rossini's most tuneful and lighthearted foot forward, while never forgetting that every good comedy has real moments of pathos. The overtures all seem a bit under tempo, and could use an extra shot of fun, but they are still upbeat enough to elicit a smile. The casts are uniformly excellent, mostly populated with journeyman Rossinians with fresh, if not always head turning, voices and good character. But each opera has at least one higher profile name, whose charisma adds just enough spice to the mix to elevate the entire collection above the competition: Ramón Vargas, Maria Bayo, and the accomplished buffo Bruno Pratico are exceptionally good.(Allen Schrott)