J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 12/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rossini had had a success in Paris with his Frenchified version of 'Maometto Secondo' known as 'La Siège de Corinthe,' and a couple of years later he did the same sort of revision of his 'Mosè in Egitto,' already known in Paris in its French version. He expanded the obligatory choral passages and added the required ballet, which takes up most of Act III. The new opera, whose subtitle is 'La passage de la Mer Rouge' ('The Parting of the Red Sea') became a palpable hit in Paris and certainly in France at least superseded its Italian forerunner. In the world's opera houses, though, it is the Italian version that has tended to be presented. In a slightly ironic twist, then, what we have here is the French version in a production in the foremost Italian opera house, La Scala. And a first-class production it is, with good singers, Riccardo Muti leading the forces, an attractive set and costumes, a marvelously stylish ballet and, though a bit old-fashioned, an effective parting of the Red Sea in the final scene.
Nonetheless, this is not necessarily Rossinian music from the topmost drawer, however effective it may be in the theatre. I suspect that most people buying this DVD will watch it once and then rarely again. (I could, of course, be entirely wrong about this. And, that being said, I think the music in 'Moïse' is actually a bit stronger than in 'Mosè') Certainly, the performance is world-class.
The sonorous Russian basso, Ildar Abdrazakov, is commanding in his portrayal of Moses. The rising young Uruguayan basso, Erwin Schrott, is equally so as the Pharaoh. Barbara Frittoli makes a delectable Ana and sings her lyrical best. Her lover, the Pharaoh's son Aménophis, is sung a bit less effectively by the young Italian tenor, Giuseppe Filanoti, whose voice is flexible but yet more stentorian than that of most Rossini tenors. Tomislav Muzek is a bit of a cipher as lizer, with a white and not terribly attractive tenor. Sonia Ganassi, however, with her rich mezzo, makes a very effective and moving Sinaïde, the Pharaoh's wife. The ballet, concocted by choreographer Micha van Hoecke, is, with its stylized faux-Egyptian hand and foot movements, quite entertaining and the three principal dancers are terrific. Luciana Savignani, as Isis, has amazing arms and hands and actually much of her movement is confined to their contortions. Roberto Bolle as Moïse, and Desmond Richardson as Pharaoh are excellent. The not-quite-narrative ballet seems to foretell Moses's defeat of the Pharaoh.
Sound is only average. There are, in fact, some odd fluctuations of volume at a couple of spots. Luca Ronconi's stage direction is uncluttered and utilitarian, and it is enhanced by the calm and expert television direction by Riccardo Managlia. Set design by is by Gianni Mantovanini and the parting of the Red Sea, while old-fashioned, is neatly done.
Sound: DD 5.1, DTS 5.1, LPCM Stereo; Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish; Running time: 181 minutes, no extras. Filmed live at La Scala December 21, 2003.
Read the Other Reviews
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 10/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most of what I intended to write has been expressed at length in other reviews. Let me just stress that "it's all about the music" and the performance thereof, which is superb: every note in tune, every phrase well articulated. The ensemble is as balanced as imaginable, though at times the miking of the singers is less than perfect. One reviewer denigrates the performance of Giuseppe Filianotti as Amenophis. I totally disagree. Filianotti is the least static, the most expressive, and in his use of dynamics the most musical of the whole cast. Besides, his role is the most interesting; he's the only character whose "choices" reveal development. Don't expect anything coherent, theologically or historically, from the libretto. It's the music that speaks of despair and triumph."
MOISE ET PHARAON "LET MY PEOPLE GO!"
Charles D. novak | minneapolis, minnesota USA | 06/19/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was unfamiliar with most of this music except for the ensemble just before the parting of the Red Sea. Hands down, Barbara Frittoli steals the vocal honors with Ildar Abdrazakov as Moise and Sonia Ganassi as the Pharaoh's wife snapping at her heels. The other seven singers are totally up to the task and demands of this score. This work has oratorio writen all over it. There simply isn't any action on the stage except for the ballet and parting of the Red Sea. The first performance of this work was in Naples in 1818. Rossini wrote his mother: "the oratorio is more or less finished and it's going very well, but in a very highly elevated style. I don't know if these macaroni-eaters will get it!" Well, this "macaroni-eater" would like to know what in the world the ballet is all about. What does the bearded guy in the black cocktail dress dancing with one of the soliders have to do with anything? The ballet does contain some good music otherwise I'd say they could get rid of it. The parting of the Red Sea is very effective. Not as spectacular as the scene in the DeMille movie, but one is limited with the stage craft at hand. Ricardo Muti does wonders with the enlarged orchestra. The set looks like a sand storm swept through the Pharaoh's Palace. There are stretches of music and recitative which will have you checking your watch for the time butI can recommend buying this seldom done work just for the novelty of it all. The sound and visual qualities are first rate."
Cecil B Rossini
Richard | Minneapolis, Mongolia | 12/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rossini and his cohorts takes the Bible with a grain of salt, just like Hollywood. The Ten Commandments here precede by far the crossing of the Red Sea. But as Grand Opera it is wonderful. And Muti conducts the entire piece in French including the Ballet making is quite special. Other than Frittoli I am unfamiliar with the singers but they are all up to their task. The unit set centers on an organ and although that doesn't seem promising director Ronconi uses it to good effect. Taste has switched to the earlier Mose in Egitto. But isn't there room for both these operas? I certainly wouldn't want to forgo the new music for Paris. If you like Rossini - indulge yourself in a Biblical spectacle."
James Cottone | NY, | 02/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a real treat. The entire, with the exception of maybe the Amenophis all do a really great job. Barbara Frittoli sounds magnificent. Buy, it's good."