Rossini Opera Festival (2):Would You Want This Tough Italian Girl?

August 22, 2013

ItalyItaly ROF (2)Rossini, L’Italiana in Algeri. Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Chorus Master, Andrea Faidutti, Conductor, José Ramon Encinar. Staging by Davide Livermore. Sets and Projections by Nicolas Bovey with D:WOK video design. Costumes by Gianluca Falaschi. Teatro Rossini, Pesao 16-08-2013 (JB)

Italian in Algiers:credits: studio amati bacciardi

Italian in Algiers:
Isabella –Anna Goryachova
credits: studio amati bacciardi

Cast:
Mustafa -Alex Esposito
Elvira –Mariangel Sicilia
Zulma –Raffaella çupinacci
Haly –Davide Luciano
Lindoro – Yijhe Shi
Isabella –Anna Goryachova
Taddeo –Mario Gassi

L’Italiana in Algeri is probably the finest operatic comedy still performed today. Why? Comedy is subtler than farce and it is in just such subtleties that Rossini scores higher than any other, not least in the musical characterisations of his three main characters.

The Italian girl herself is distinguished by her vocal charm. And by her irony. Of course, Rosina in Barbiere has charm, but not to the same degree as Isabella: this Girl is purposeful and has even been used (mistakenly in my view) as an agent of feminism.

Knowingly or unknowingly, most memorable performances of Isabella have been modelled on Conchita Supervia’s unparalleled vocal charm. But by that measurement, even the greats of today –say Daniela Barcellona or Joyce Di Donato- fall short.

Anna Goryachova –probably aided and abetted by Davide Livermore- doesn’t put herself forward for this measurement. Vocal charm is sent to hell. This Isabella has such determination, your hair stands on end. When she began Crude sorti, the foundations of the theatre shook. Hers is a rare, rich, mellifluous, contralto voice, surprisingly small in size, but with every note perfectly placed and almost threateningly expressive. The trouble is that with charm out of the window, the irony disappears too. And that, to my ear, is a big part of Rossini’s character drawing. Even in her second act aria –Per lui che adoro– she was still asserting herself as though her life depended on it. And by this time, she was reduced to a bikini! Very beautiful she was too. And nimble of movement. But Rossini, I fear, had not been well served.

Lindoro is not the most ambitious of Rossini’s creations. In fact he is little more than the stock in trade heroic, bel canto tenor. But his creator has been careful enough to endow him with charm. On the charm score, Yijhe Shi delivers well. It is an integral part of his vocal makeup. He is also handsome and as nimble as a flea in the considerable choreography which Livermore requires of him. His diction is perfection and so is his intonation. The downside is his vocal delivery: the technique is there but misplaced: his voice sounds somewhere between throaty and strangulated. But don’t listen to me. The predominantly Italian audience adored him. As I indicated, his conviction carries him. It just goes to show that audiences can live without the sheer beauty of tone of say, Alfredo Kraus, which was for some of was sorely absent in Shi’s Languir per una bella -one of Rossini’s most moving tenor arias.

But the greatest applause was rightly reserved for Alex Esposito’s Mustafà. And what a colourful role Rossini hands him: authoritative, mischievous, dignified, scheming, solemn, jokesy. –Esposito slips in and out of all of them with immaculate precision and athletic accomplishment of movement. Not too many bassi buffi can appear successfully in beach shorts. But Esposito does, a crown in his hugely impressive delivery.

I should mention Davide Luciano’s (Haly) excellent singing of Le femine d’Italia– another basso buffo triumph. Watch that name.

Anyone lucky enough to have seen last year’s ROF Ciro in Babylonia or the 2012 Demetrio e Polibio, will already know the wisdom and wit of Davide Livermore’s Rossini stagings. Here again, he is sure handed –even, and maybe especially, when I am not in agreement, like, for instance, his ideas about Isabella. But who am I? A mere scribbler. Mr Livermore’s touch is so convincing, and for the most part, so much in the Rossini spirit, that it would convert an atheist to Catholicism.

During the overture –one of Rossini’s best known and beautifully paced by the conductor, José-Ramon Encinar- Livermore mad use of Nicolas Bovey’s witty projections which owe much to comic strips and commercials on such matters as how to cook your pasta or apply your lipstick. Rossini would have adored it.

Moreover, throughout the show, Livermore has used a nineteen-twenties Paris cabaret style choreography with stiff bodies and sharp hip, shoulder and knee jerks or twists, always rhythmically responding to Rossini’s music. The actors are drilled to perfection, which ups the comedy.

Maestro Encinar was also a considerate accompanist of his singers, ever mindful of some of them not having very big voices.

Jack Buckley

Print Friendly

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Facebook button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera Have Announced the Programme for the 2015/16 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Preview: Alston at Home at The Place, London __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2015/16 Royal Opera House Season Has Been Announced __________________________________
  • NEW! Ukraine: «Odessa Classics» European Music Festival, 10. – 14.6.2015 in Odessa __________________________________
  • NEW! The Lichfield Festival 2015: A Preview __________________________________
  • NEW! The Three Choirs Festival 2015: A Preview __________________________________
  •  NEW! LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer – An Overview __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera Season 2015/2016 Highlights __________________________________
  • NEW! The Neue Oper Wien’s New Productions for 2015 (SS) __________________________________
  • NEW! Preview: Cheltenham Festival Offers an Eclectic Mix of Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Preview: Two Productions and a Young Singers’ Competition from Bampton Classical Opera __________________________________
  • NEW! Preview: Chipping Campden Prepares for its Musical Spring __________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera Teams Up with Royal Shakespeare Theatre for its 2015 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Two Berliner Philharmoniker Concerts to be Streamed Live in European Cinemas __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Daily Review Summary

    *If more than 4 reviews posted for day
    Name
    Email *

    Geoffrey Newman Interviews GOERNER-1

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Backstage Magic Tricks at LA Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro __________________________________
  • Baroque and Beyond: The French Spirit of Pianist Alexandre Tharaud __________________________________
  • New Director For Teatro Colón (JSJ) __________________________________
  • Sensitivity And Engagement: The World Of Tasmin Little __________________________________
  • Beat Furrer and Grigory Sokolov Named Latest Honorary Members of the Wiener Konzerthaus Society __________________________________
  • Dame Fanny Waterman to Step Down from Leeds International Piano Competition after 2015 Competition __________________________________
  • Nine First-Time Winners Revealed at the British Composer Awards 2014 __________________________________
  • Dancers in the Making. John O’Dwyer Visits the English National Ballet School __________________________________
  • Arnaldo Cohen in Conversation with Geoffrey Newman __________________________________
  • Top 10 Reviewed Cities

    Reviews by Reviewer

    Monthly Archive