Magazine article Opera Canada

Rossini

Magazine article Opera Canada

Rossini

Article excerpt

II barbiere di Siviglia

Arthaus: 102 305

Although this 1988 Schwetz-ingen Festival production has been available for years in other formats, this is its first DVD appearance. It features the young Cecilia Bartoli as Rosina, a year before her La Scala debut and a couple of years before her U.S. debut. And it also features Canadian baritone Gino Quilico, here in his early 30s, as Figaro.

The staging and design for this intimate theatre are traditional, with buckled shoes and hooped skirts, but costumes and sets are drab with neutral colors. Directors sometimes do this to offset the colorful music and lively stage action, but it doesn't work here. For example, the bubbling final scene in which all is resolved is set in a dark and dull monochromatic grey. Overall, the direction is a bit stiff, lacking in wit and Italian warmth.

But the real attraction here is the young Bartoli. Her success was yet to come, but you can easily see and hear the reasons for her later superstardom. A talented singing actor then and now, her Rosina is clever, self-assured and coquettish. Her recitatives are clean, with naturally inflected rhythms, while her arias are controlled and expressive. "Una voce poco fa" features brilliant, accurate ornamentation with her wonderful low chesty mezzo sound, nicely enhancing the mischievousness of the character. …

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