Notes and Editorial Reviews
Le Comte Ory
Brad Cohen, cond; Huw Rhys-Evans (
); Luca Salsi (
); Wojtek Gierlach (
); Linda Gerrard (
); Gloria Montanari (
); Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade (
); Sofia Soloviy (
); 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
’s nine numbers have found their way into
, although with some rescoring, but they comprise only half of
’s music. Fortunately the Gran Pezzo Concertato à 14 Voci was used, although in
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.
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
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
, 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
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
, 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
Works on This Recording
Le Comte Ory by Gioachino Rossini
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)
Czech Chamber Soloists Brno,
Brno Czech Philharmonic Choir
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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