Varduhi Abrahamyan and Luca Pisaroni Are Outstanding in Liceu’s L’italiana in Algeri

19/12/2018

SpainSpain Rossini, L’italiana in Algeri: Liceu Chorus and Orchestra / Riccardo Frizza (conductor), Gran Theatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 17 & 18.12.2018. (JMI)

L’italiana in Algeri © A. Bofill

L’italiana in Algeri © A. Bofill

Production:
Direction – Vittorio Borrelli
Sets – Claudia Boasso
Costumes – Santuzza Calì
Lighting – Andrea Anfossi (original), Vladi Spigarolo (revival)

Cast:
Isabella – Varduhi Abrahamyan/Maite Beaumont
Lindoro – Maxim Mironov/Edgardo Rocha
Mustafà – Luca Pisaroni/Simón Orfila
Taddeo – Giorgio Caoduro/Manel Esteve
Haly – Toni Marsol
Elvira – Sara Blanch
Zulma – Lidia Vinyes-Curtis

It has been 36 years since L’italiana in Algeri was last performed at the Liceu, which is rather surprising given that it’s an opera one would consider to be part of the main repertoire.

This Vittorio Borrelli production originated at the Teatro Regio in Turin, where it premiered in 2009; it was revived there four years later and will be staged again next spring. A very classic, traditional production with a Muslim palace, rich colors and no shortage of baths and eunuchs, it reminds one of the well-known staging by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. The costumes are also traditional and richly colored, and the lighting works well. The stage direction follows the path of a buffo opera with some funny gags: it tries hard to get the audience to laugh and is sometimes more successful at it than others. In sum, it is an appealing production and well-suited to this Rossini opera.

Riccardo Frizza handled the musical direction, and I must say my expectations ran high. He was for years a frequent conductor of opera performances featuring Juan Diego Flórez and, therefore, is quite accustomed to leading Rossini operas. In fact, I saw him conduct this opera in 2003 and have a very positive memory of it. In addition, he was recently at the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo and was excellent. His reading here was what you can expect of a solid conductor, although I admit I hoped for something more from him.

Isabella was played by mezzo-soprano Varduhi Abrahamyan, who gave a superb performance. Until now, I had only seen her perform in Valencia, and she was always good. Her debut at the Liceu has been especially positive: she has an appealing voice, well suited to the demands of the role, and she moves well on stage. In the second cast Isabella was sung by Maite Beaumont, who has an engaging voice. Her problem lies in the fact that her volume is not sufficient for a big house, and she does on occasion fall short.

Tenor Maxim Mironov was Lindoro in the first cast. Among his virtues are a voice that is attractive in the middle and well-handled, including agilities, but it is too small for this house. Some of the same points can be made about tenor Edgardo Rocha in the second cast.

Both Mustafàs were excellent in terms both of singing and acting. Luca Pisaroni gave an outstanding interpretation of the character, as did Simón Orfila in the second cast. The former is more baritone, while the latter singer is more bass, but both were impressive.

Taddeo is a basso buffo or, if you prefer, a buffo bass-baritone. Giorgio Caoduro’s voice was suited to the character, while baritone Manel Esteve fared less well. Toni Marsol was correct in the part of Haly, as was mezzo-soprano Lidia Vinyes-Curtis as Zulma. Soprano Sara Blanch in the character of Elvira made a strong impression; she shone in the concertante that closes the first part of the opera.

José M. Irurzun

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • NEW! Glyndebourne 2020 cancelled and looking to the future __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Philadelphia announces Digital Festival O __________________________________
  • NEW! The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020-2021 at Dresden’s Semperoper __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Southbank Centre in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020-2021 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall’s 2020-2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Wigmore Hall in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war – and when will we all meet again? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • SOME GOOD NEWS! Extraordinary generosity of the Longborough Festival Opera audience __________________________________
  • Remembering Margaret Rutherford: murder on and off screen __________________________________
  • Remembering George London’s life and legacy on the 100th anniversary of his birth __________________________________
  • PIANIST LOUIS LORTIE IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • PIANIST JONATHAN BISS IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month