Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Rossini L'Italiana in Algeri |
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
A Wonderful Italian Girl
David D. Dollinger | Pasadena, CA | 03/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whe this edition was released I already had three Girls in my collection, the Schwetzinger with Doris Soffel, the Paris with Jennifer Laramore, and an edition from Pesaro. With the exception of the Lindoro (a young Russian tenor who appears in the Glyndebourne Cenrentola)I was unfamiliar with the singers. When the set under consideration appeared I noted that the young Russian Maxim Mironov was again singing Lindoro and the Bey was Marco Vinco repeating his role. I dithered about buying this set; it is inordinately expensive and could a United Nations cast do a better job?
Fortunately the most recent Opera News reviewed it quite favorably and truth to tell I was less than enchanted with the Pesaro set. I took the plunge and having four Italian Girls may be two too many I am very glad that I did. Perhaps this is not the time to comment on the Pesaro set, but it is unavoidable in view that these two artists are repeating their roles. In its favor the Pesaro set is all Italian (save Mironov) and this is always a plus--or at least it should be. The director is Dario Fo who, I understand, has some reputation in Europe. I would be reluctant to stake my reputation on this production; in short it is a mess.
Fo is unable to leave well enough alone; every aria, duet, concerted number is peopled with supernumeraries clutttering up the stage--and remember this is a very small house.No one is allowed to have the stage to himself without having to compete with dancers, faux animals, banners, flags, you name it and Fo has thrown it in. Whoever was in charge of making the video decided that closeups were few, most of the action taking place from a distance. Mironov was not affected vocally, but dramatically he seemed to make less effect than he should. Vinco unfortunately was saddled with absurd head gear which cast a shadow on the top half of his face so that he made little if any impact. The "Girl" was sung by Marianna Pizzolato. A capable singer, but indifferently costumed and lacking charisma--a muted performance. For a completist this set does include one of Lindoro's arias that is usually omitted, Concedi amor. Its inclusion (or omission) would never be a deal breaker.
The Aix performance was a revelation. Lindoro became an important part of the opera; needless to say Mironov was enchanting, a good a vocalist as he had been in the Glyndobourne DVD; he is very likely to give Juan Diego a run for his money and like JD he doesn't have a trill. Vinco was transformed. Spared having to wear the absurd headgear his face was now visible and the use of closeups revealed a wonderful comic flair and great timing. The Girl? She was sung by Christianne Stotijn. Unknown to me I googled her and it would appear that she is from the Netherlands. The voice has "flicker" that will irritate some although in no way does it interfer with her agility. Slightly zaftig, she is quite pretty and is a capable actress fully inhabiting the role of Isabella. The orchestra is the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the conductor is Ricardo Frizza who keeps the action fizzing, adopting fast tempi, but the singers are up to it.
The production is the opposite of Pesaro: simplicity personified. A triangular shaped playing area that is tiered remains constant and is adapted to what is dramatically required. Singers do not have to compete with extraneous action as they do in Pesaro. Vinco is a gifted farceur who is also a superb singer, ready to take the mantle from Simone Alaimo. Lastly, the performers seemed to be having a wonderful time (perhaps they were too in Pesaro but it was not possible to tell) since this is convey with the use of closeups.
Would I sacrifice my other Italianas? Well, that would be a hypothetical. Thank God I don't and I can enjoy Doris Soffel Jennifer Larmore even if they are not surround by singers who are comparable (this would not apply to Larmore's set since she has Alaimo to play against). Pesaro for completeness, probably then to Aix for sheer verve and fun."