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Rossini: Le Comte Ory / Cohen, Rhys-Evans, Montanari

Release Date: 05/29/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8660207   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Luisa Islam-Ali-ZadeGloria MontanariLinda GerrardLuca Salsi,   ... 
Conductor:  Brad Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Chamber Soloists BrnoBrno Czech Philharmonic Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ROSSINI Le Comte Ory Brad Cohen, cond; Huw Rhys-Evans ( Ory ); Luca Salsi ( Raimbaud ); Wojtek Gierlach ( Tutor ); Linda Gerrard ( Countess ); Gloria Montanari ( Ragonde ); Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade ( Isolier ); Sofia Soloviy ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Alice ); Czech P Ch & C Soloists NAXOS 8.660207 (2 CDs: 127:35) Live: Bad Wildbad 7/12,16,19/2002

The tale that Rossini reused the music from Il viaggio a Reims to create the opera Le Comte Ory is true, but not to the extent that many believe. True, six of Viaggo ’s nine numbers have found their way into Ory , although with some rescoring, but they comprise only half of Ory ’s music. Fortunately the Gran Pezzo Concertato à 14 Voci was used, although in Ory it is reduced to seven soloists plus chorus. The effect is undiminished. If you have never heard it, make it a Rossini-must!

Le Comte Ory lacks an overture, which may be a reason the work does not have better name recognition in the Rossini canon. People who may have never heard or seen many of Rossini’s operas most likely know of the works by title from the popularity of their overtures. Ory should be better known. It is a good opera; the story, with its disguises and intrigues is well written and fun, and Rossini’s music is on a par with the best of his better-known scores. One melodious, engaging number after another, considerable ensemble work, and not much recitative make Ory an opera begging to be popular.

The story has some historical basis. The legend of Count Ory, a womanizer along the lines of Don Juan, dates back to the Crusades. In the late 18th century, Pierre-Antoine de la Place collected the Ory tales and popularized the story of the Count and his men invading a convent and impregnating the nuns. The story was dramatized by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard De-lestre-Poirson as a one-act playlet presented at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in 1816. In this work, the Crusaders return just in the knick of time to prevent Ory and his men from bedding the nuns. For an opera libretto, Scribe and De-lestre-Poirson have Ory disguising himself, first as a hermit and then as a nun, as he attempts to enter Countess Adèle’s Castle and ultimately enter Adèle herself. It is reminiscent of Almaviva’s attempts to see Rosina, although Rosina is complicit in the deceptions and welcomes Almaviva’s attentions, which significantly sets her apart from Adèle. Another difference is Almaviva’s success, whereas Ory’s every attempt is thwarted.

There have been relatively few recordings of Le Comte Ory . EMI had a mono offering in the early 1950s that was briefly available on CD. Stereo offerings (all DDD) include a studio recording by John Eliot Gardiner on Philips (1989), a live recording featuring Juan Diego Flórez conducted by Jesús López-Cobos (DG, 2004), and now this Naxos from the 2002 Rossini in Wildbad Festival. Naxos has issued several of the Rossini in Wildbad productions. With the exception of La cenerentola , the offerings have been some of Rossini’s lesser known and less frequently recorded operas. If you have been collecting them, be sure to add this Ory to your library. I enjoyed it every bit as much as the Philips and DG recordings. In the role of Ory, Flórez brings the most star-power, but John Aler (Philips) and Huw Rhys-Evans (Naxos) both deliver solid performances. I found the sound of the Naxos to be clearer and more focused than the DG, especially during crescendos and fortes, although more stage noise is audible during the Wildbad performances—not enough to be distracting. The studio performance on Philips lacks some of the spontaneity of this Naxos.

I like all three of the stereo sets (I have not heard the EMI mono). Each has its strengths and any weaknesses are negligible and subject to personal preferences. If I had to pick only one (a very hard choice), I found this Naxos imminently likable. The performance is exuberant, the cast sounds like they are having a great time with Ory , and the Naxos sound and balances are excellent. The album unfortunately does not have a libretto and a French-only libretto is available at www.naxos.com/libretti/660207.htm. A compensating factor is Naxos’s reasonable price, although many of the once higher priced albums are returning at reduced prices.

FANFARE: David L. Kirk
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Works on This Recording

Le Comte Ory by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade (Mezzo Soprano), Gloria Montanari (Mezzo Soprano), Linda Gerrard (Soprano),
Luca Salsi (Baritone), Wojciech Adalbert Gierlach (Bass), Huw Rhys-Evans (Tenor),
Sofiya Solovey (Soprano)
Conductor:  Brad Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Chamber Soloists Brno,  Brno Czech Philharmonic Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Italy 
Length: 127 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Kursaal, Bad Wildbad, Germany (07/16/2002); Kursaal, Bad Wildbad, Germany (07/19/2002) 

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