Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Gioachino Rossini - Bianca e Falliero / Bayo Barcellona Meli Benini Palumbo Martinoty |
Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro 2005
Actors: Maria Bayo, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli, Carlo Lepore, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia
Director: Jean-Louis Martinoty
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
I'm Still Clapping!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 05/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dramatically, this production of Rossini's "Bianca and Falliero" from the Pesaro Festival is DOA. The modest stage at Pesaro is crowded with confusing backdrops and folding mirror-doors, which look hi-techy but stifle the action. There's precious little action anyway, and the blocking of actors and chorus is as stiff as old-time Bayreuth. The chorus has little room to spare and shuffles in and out with no particular concern for drama. Then there's the story, stock melodrama with sudden reversal from tragedy to comedy just in time for curtain calls. It's the tale of an obdurate, egotistical father, whose daughter Bianca loves the wrong man, Falliero, but is torn by loyalty to Dad. The other suitor, Father's choice, eventually redeems himself, etc., and the right couple is united. In this production, the father is acted by a visibly younger singer than the daughter; perhaps that explains why Francesco Meli performs the father's role in a wheelchair and on crutches, to look older. But his marvelous tenor voice is as youthful as springtime, and besides, whoever heard of a tenor with a heart of flint? Costumes are splendid, though encumbering, except for Falliero's, which looks like the results of a trip to the Pesaro flea market with too much money in pocket. One might guess that Falliero's multiple baggy layers have the purpose of disguising the womanly body of contralto Daniela Barcellona, who sings the role of the young miltary hero. To Barcellona's credit, she walks and stalks with surprisingly masculine affect. She was born for "trouser" roles.
The dramatic shortcomings of this opera are not all the fault of the Pesaro production. Rossini gets most of the blame for obviously not caring a fig about drama. Written in 1819 on commission from La Scala in Milan, Rossini wrong-headedly chose to compose his hero's role for a woman singer, a practice still acceptable in Milan but already scorned in Naples and elsewhere. His musical intentions, in other words, took total precedence. The whole opera libretto, to be honest, was just a clothesline on which to hang his most flamboyant arias, ravishing duets, intricate quartets, and rousing choruses. Does the music serve to forward the drama? Not at all. It's static and episodic. But do I care? Read on and learn!
The music of Bianca e Falliero is so rich that the dramatic shortcomings matter less than nothing. Very little of it will be familiar even to Rossini fans; there is only one recycled aria, and this Rossini lover's mouth gaped open at aria after aria, murmuring "why have I never heard this before?" Maria Bayo, singing Bianca, soars into coloratura, aerial acrobatics, with vibrant assurance. I've heard her in at least five other roles, but I had no idea she could produce such fireworks. The cruel father, Francesco Meli, sings with gymnastic agility for a guy in a wheelchair. His vocal timbre is too lovely for his words, but who cares! The dominant voice, however, is Daniella Barcelona's contralto, absolutely balanced and perfectly tuned throughout her extremely strenuous arias, and warmly supportive during her duets with Bayo. The duet they sing at the beginning of the second disk might well be the crown jewel of Rossini's art; I had to stop the disk and play it encore twice in my living room. There are also three quartets that match anything Rossini ever wrote in better-known operas for ingenuity and musical excitement. One doesn't think of Bach in comparison to Rossini, but here in Bianca e Falliero, the fervid Italian proves himself a master of counterpoint that would satisfy the fervent German.
I thought about the possibility that a CD would be as good a choice for listening to this glorious music as the DVD. But it wouldn't. Even if the drama is static, the subtitles and the context of relationships help focus my musical understanding on this kaleidoscopic singing. Besides, the CD is more expensive."
Love's Labors Gained
Dr. John W. Rippon | Florida | 01/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bianca e Falliero is from Rossini's mature period. It follows La Donna del Lago both from 1819 but sees him more closely matching the bel canto style to situations, actions and psychological nuances of the drama presented. In the exciting finale of act one the scenes follow each other uniterupted as the dramatic situation heightens. Here the hero (Falliero) coming in from defeating the enemies of Venice only to find his beloved promised to a rival and about to be married. (A situation later used by Donizetti in Lucia de Lammermoor.) the music is gripping and the orchestration massive in comparison to earlier operas as Tancredi or even La Donna that just preceded it. The magical moment for me was the great quartet in the act two trial scene. Falliero has been accused of treason and in "Cielo, il mio labbro ispira" Rossini raises in stepwise fashion the intensity of emotion unseen before in his works. There are several lovely moments in the opera as Bianca's cavatina "Della rosa il bel vermiglio". Bianca's father Contareno chides his daughter in act one about duty, honor and loyalty in one of the most taxing and effective arias in all opera. Rossini used the rondo finale "Tanti affetti" from La Donna del Lago at the end of this opera also (Bianca's "Teco in resto in te rispetto.") The situations are similar but such use did not go down well with critics or the public.
Although Bianca e Falliero is a more mature, compact and artistically satisfying opera than it's predecessors, it doesn't contain the lilting cantilena or unfettored pathos of Tancredi; still my favorite. However the performance and the performers on this disc are worth many repeated viewings. (There is a happy ending; love wins.)"
An Evenings Fine Entertainment
drkhimxz | Freehold, NJ, USA | 04/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have some doubt that it is historically accurate to portray a young woman in 12th Century Venice having the faintest notion that she might not have to choose from among the husbands her father had opened negotiation with. That was just a will-o-the-whist thought which strayed through my mind as I watched the terrible dilemma into which the heroine, Bianca, was placed when caught between the love of her youthful life and the man to whom her father had engaged for her to marry. Not an unfamiliar situation in opera, theatrical drama, operetta, or musical comedy down unto our own day. Nonetheless, tired as the plot was, even when Rossini tackled it, his music and the skill of those involved with this production, give it life, audience involvement, and a very good night at the opera. Maria Bayo, the Spanish singer, is just fine as the young woman, caught between love and filial duty. Barcellona, in a pants part, polishes off the young lover's part, although a virile young tenor, were he appropriate for the music, might have struck more of the Errol Flynn panache called for in the role. The other players were all highly competent, swinging through the Rossinian harmonics, as well as solo's, in style. In what appears to be a jewel box theater, the production staff and scenic designers did an excellent job with providing a lush, multi-dimensional, setting with minimum space, within which to accomplish the task. The small or orchestra did its job well as did the chorus. With no other DVD versions of the opera listed by Amazon, we are lucky to have such richness as our only choice."