Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Rossini - La Cenerentola / Ruxandra Donose Maxim Mironov Simone Alberghini Luciano Di Pasquale Nathan Berg Vladimir Jurowski Glyndebourne Opera|
Actors: Raquela Sheeran, Lucia Cirillo
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Superb traditional staging of a Rossini masterpiece
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"La Cenerentola has been well served on DVD. The recently released Jean-Pierre Ponnelle filming of the opera was an excellent production, joining Cecilia Bartoli's star vehicle with the Houston Opera as fine representatives of Rossini's unfairy tale retelling of Charles Perrault's Cendrillon (or Cinderella). This new, vividly realized Glyndebourne production traditionally staged (in the finest sense) by Sir Peter Hall is perhaps the best of the three: combining intelligent insight into Rossini's unique operatic vision as well as a perceptive grasp of the historical importance of Cenerentola in the evolution of art, situated as it is on the cusp of the Romantic Era.
La Cenerentola is given the sub-heading (by Rossini) "a Dramma giocoso in two acts"; significantly, it is an inscription deliberately shared with Don Giovanni, the finest "serious comedy" ever staged. Mozart's spirit hovers over this opera; combining, as it does, comedy and a darker world view than is the youthful Rossini's norm. There is no room for farce. This is a relatively sober tale of impoverished gentility struggling to regain a social foothold. There is no fairy Godmother; rather a Voltaire-like philosophe (Alidoro) who attempts to manipulate events for ends never completely clear. This opera is truly representative of it's age and that is how Sir Peter stages it. The London Philharmonic is nicely conducted by the youthful Vladimir Jurowski. That this opera succeeds so well is a tribute to all concerned in this beautiful, resonant production.
First performed at the Teatro Valle, Rome on 25 January 1817 on the heels of Rossini's successful il Barbieri di Siviglia, and with a libretto by Jacopo Ferretti, La Cenerentola is as much a child of the Enlightenment with it's rational values and philosophe trained Prince in the person of Don Ramiro as it is an expression of nascent Romanticism with it's triumph of love over social hierarchy. If you are expecting a traditional fairy tale you will be disappointed. It is more a comedy of manners with serious overtones: the struggles of individual merit attempting to overcome class restrictions. It is an expression of the Age of Franklin, Washington and Jefferson. This Cinderella will better herself not through magic but through intrinsic worth, as coached by Alidoro, a philosopher/social mechanic. Sir Peter Hall suggests (in the 30 minute documentary on disc 2 entitled Insights) that opera singers should be clothed in the style of the music they sing. This production is placed in the era of 1815-1830 and is stunningly visual. The grandees are beautifully dressed in their period clothing, Cenerentola and her family suitably seedy in costumes looking moth-eaten, lived-in and dirty, yet suggestive of former gentility. It is obvious that great thought went into the staging of this opera. The sets also reflect the social position of their denizens, a loving recreation of the era which draws you into the world of this opera like no other component. It is a visual treat.
The acting and singing are fine because both aspects of the drama are stressed. The vile, narcissistic step-sisters Clorinda (Raquela Sheeran) and Tisbe (Lucia Cirillo) are excellently portrayed. The Father ironically named Don Magnifico (Luciano di Pasquale) is superbly repugnant. The philosophe Alidoro (Nathan Berg) is sung with a suitably rich Bass-Baritone reminiscent of Mozart's Sarastro in the Magic Flute. Dandini (appropriately named), the servant who masquerades as the prince to discover which of the sisters is most worthy of marriage, is sung by Simone Alberghini. The prince Don Ramiro (Maxim Mironov) is youthful with a fine, slightly reedy tenor. Angelina (another appropriate name) also known as Cenerentola is sung by lovely Ruxandra Donose. Her voice struck me as slightly problematic. It is a dark mezzo-soprano leaning toward contralto and is an excellent instrument: lyrical and supple. It's a voice that will only improve with time. At her lower register she projects softly so that hearing her distinctly on my sound system required my close attention and an occasional finger on the volume button. Her upper register is fine, with no difficulty in projection (though she's no Bette Midler).
The opera was recorded live at the Glyndebourne Opera House on June 2 & 4 2005. It is shot in 16/9 anamorphic widescreen high-definition film and looks beautiful. The double layer DVD is NTSC encoded for all regions. Sound is available in LPCM stereo and 5.1 DTS Digital Surround and is stunningly lifelike with great presence and immediacy. Good home theater systems will have a field day. Subtitles are in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. Extras include a Cast Gallery, an Illustrated Synopsis and a short documentary Insights with Sir Peter Hall and Vladimir Jurowski. The running time of the 2 discs is 187 minutes.
On balance, this is my favorite Cenerentola because of its insightful production. It is intelligently presented and beautiful to look at. Opus Arte is releasing some fine DVD sets and this is another example of their high standards. Strongly recommended.
Leaves Nothing to Be Desired
Terry Serres | Minneapolis, MN United States | 10/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It would be a mistake, and a pity, to pass up this exciting performance for lack of star power. This DVD is a delight from beginning to end - by turns silly, soaring, earnest, and sweet. It swept me up from the first bracing measures of the overture under Jurowski's quicksilver baton - thanks in great part to superb sound quality, probably the best I've ever heard on a DVD.
A DENSE PLOT --
This is my first exposure to this opera, so I may be speaking from ignorance. But I know voices, and this excellent band of singers masters every crotchet of the dazzling score and maddening plot. To be honest, this opera impressed me outright with its ham-handed libretto, inelegant even by the low literary standards of opera. The overall storyline is fantastical and farcical, but is interjected from time to time with odd, psycho-socio-political musings. The lack of subtlety would bring a blush to Beaumarchais or Da Ponte. The almost Aeschylean air of premonition that concludes the first act is particularly jarring. I don't know how other productions handle this dramaturgical disjointedness, but here these peculiar shifts in tone are handled with choreography and dim lighting, turning them into episodic soliloquies, even when the characters are superficially interacting. I found this to be a satisfying resolution.
AN EXTRAORDINARY CAST -
One of the advantages of the work is that there really aren't any small parts. It's an extended ensemble piece, with an egalitarian distribution of the musical numbers. Every singer has a chance to shine. Sometimes La Cenerentola is reduced to a lopsided vehicle for a star mezzo. Gratefully, this production is buoyed by singers who are all vocally accomplished and dramatically adept.
A SUBLIME ANGELINA -
As Angelina (Cenerentola), Ruxandra Donose is nothing short of sublime. She gives a strong, centered portrayal. She inhabits Rossini's music with ease and authority. Her big moments have a lyrical sweep, and her coloratura is fluid and dramatically attuned. While I adore Cecilia Bartolia, and confess I have not heard her in this role, I must say that I am bothered by her aspirated "wooba-wooba" coloratura technique - most recently heard in her collaboration with Marc Minkowski, "Opera proibita."
A DASHING RAMIRO -
Donose's Don Ramiro, Maxim Mironov, is to my ears the ideal singer for this part. He has a bright, youthful voice - ardent and nuanced. He is not overshadowed by his costar, and indeed their chemistry is instantaneous. I was somewhat taken aback that he did not garner a heartier ovation at the final curtain. This is a very fine singer and an endearing portrayal.
A CHARISMATIC DANDINI -
Effective, fascinating performances are turned in by Simone Alberghini as Dandini and Nathan Berg as Alidoro. Dandini is a tricky role - the plot swirls about him for the better part of the opera, but he can never become the main attraction. Alberghini maneuvers this with expert comic nuance and a limber characterization. His entrance cavatina is somewhat lacking in luster, as only befits a spurious prince. Alberghini brings to the role of Dandini a generous spirit and remarkable stage charisma. His baritone is firm and supple. He is the perfect foil for Mironov's Ramiro.
AN ECCENTRIC ALIDORO -
The role of Alidoro is rather peculiar, but persuasively embodied by the talented Nathan Berg, who has become one of my favorite singers. Alidoro is the _eminence grise_ that inspires the prince's life choices. However heavy-handed the writing, he is the opera's moral compass. Berg serves the character well with his warm voice and vivid, eccentric characterization. During his visit alone to Angelina, he waxes evangelical and visionary, his manner veering on the unbalanced. You can easily see how he might raise both the suspicions and the hopes of an impressionable girl. Angelina seems initially put off by this crackpot, but eventually allows herself to embrace his vision. By following Alidoro, Angelina risks becoming Magnifico's feathered donkey, but her trust in him is the turning point of the opera.
THE STEPS -
The two sisters have tangy voices and nimble comic flair. Luciano Di Pasquale as Don Magnifico is suitably over-the-top. He chews the scenery with relish and splendidly bombastic coloratura.
COLORATURA AD ABSURDUM -
I appreciated, too, the variety of coloratura colorings. To be honest, if every singer delivered Rossini's runs with machine-gun precision, it would be oppressive. The singers are nicely contrasted, not only in the tessitura of their roles, but in tonal quality and delivery of coloratura. Yet they blend beautifully in ensemble. Who could ask for anything more?
PRODUCTION VALUES -
The staging is completely traditional, conservative even, but never getting in the way of the stage antics. The design has an Arcadian feel, from the grimy tawdriness of Magnifico to the bucolic charms of the prince and his entourage. It bears repeating that, aside from some fleeting distortion at the end during Angelina's valedictory effusions, the sound on this DVD is exemplary. The image is very much its equal, embracing the rich natural colors of the set and costumes.
A Sparkling Traditional 'Cenerentola'
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 05/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with just about everything Mike Birman had to say in his exhaustive and very informative review of this wonderful DVD of Rossini's 'La Cenerentola.' (I urge you to read it. My review is really just an addendum to his.) I would only add that I thought the musical direction by Vladimir Jurowski was spot on, beautifully shaped. He doesn't dawdle and that is a plus in Rossini. (Yet he was able to linger appropriately in Cenerentola's opening aria about the lonely king.) The all-but-patented Rossini crescendi and accelerandi are marvelously timed. The London Philharmonic are masterly in this June 2005 production at Glyndebourne.
My only very minor quibbles -- and this comes from this being a live production -- are that sometimes there is some problem with the singers being a bit behind the beat in the faster passages of the buffo arias. All the singers are excellent although Alberghini (Dandini) is a bit wooly-voiced, especially in the early scenes. I was not at all bothered by Donose's lower register as Birman was, but I see why he mentions it. At first I thought Mironov (Don Ramiro), whose voice was aptly described by Birman as 'reedy', had a bothersome Supervia-like rapid vibrato/tremolo but he got that under control and impressed with his accurate coloratura and some sly comic acting.
I loved that this production was traditional. Sir Peter Hall knows not to mess with a librettist's invention and yet he did come up with some inventive stage action within the context of the traditional mise en scene. Bravo for that. (Though I was a bit taken aback when the stepsisters, early in Act I, appeared to be receiving the prince's heralds while still in their undergarments. Tsk tsk.)
This is definitely five-star production and gets my hearty recommendation.
No big name performers; still five stars
Toni Bernhard | Davis, CA United States | 07/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Glyndebourne Opera production from 2005 is one of the best opera DVDs I own. I was surprised that there was not a single performer who was familiar to me. Perhaps the members of the cast specialize in Rossini, such is their mastery of his music. Everyone excels, making this production a complete delight. In addition, the directing is crisp, the costumes and sets look great on an HDTV. A splendid production all around."