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Rossini: La Cenerentola / Jurowski, Donose, Glyndebourne Festival [Blu-ray]

Rossini / Sheeran / Cirillo / Lpo / Jurowski
Release Date: 06/24/2008 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7008  
Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Nathan BergLuciano Di PasqualeRuxandra DonoseRaquela Sheeran,   ... 
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraGlyndebourne Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Blu-ray Video:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

*** This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD or HD DVD players. ***


ROSSINI La cenerentola Vladimir Jurowski, cond; Ruxandra Donose ( Cenerentola ); Raquela Sheeran ( Clorinda ); Lucia Cirillo ( Tisbe ); Nathan Berg Read more ( Alidoro ); Luciano Di Pasquale ( Don Magnifico ); Maxim Mironov ( Don Ramiro ); Simone Alberghini ( Dandini ); London PO; Glyndebourne Ch BBC/OPUS ARTE 944 (2 DVDs: 187:00) Live: Glyndebourne 2005

This is a conventional production of La cenerentola in most respects. The stage sets are sparsely suggestive rather than literal and detailed, but sufficient. Costumes are excellent, and Peter Hall gets superior comic acting from his principals. Timing and definition of gesture are especially good, with Di Pasquale and Alberghini making the most of their respective parts, minus any distracting add-on gags that all too often disrupt both the work’s rhythm and audience’s attention.

I have one reservation concerning Hall’s production, however: his treatment of the concertato . This Italian operatic convention completely stops the action and allows all characters on stage to express their thoughts simultaneously; which in Rossini’s comic operas invariably means stupefaction and derision. Hall exchanges conventional lighting at these instances for blue scrims, and sets his performers moving and weaving about in odd, slow motion patterns. In theory, this is interesting; in practice, I admittedly found it hard not to laugh at something Hall intended to be taken earnestly. I could only recall Eugene O’Neill’s pretentious 1929 play, Strange Interlude , with its characters given to occasional zombie-like speeches out of time, revealing their thoughts; or to Groucho Marx’s satire on it in the 1930 movie, Animal Crackers : “I see figures . . . strange figures . . . weird figures . . . Steel 186, Anaconda 74, American Can 138 . . .”. Hall’s desire to gussy up each concertato (and there are several, if you count smaller sections of otherwise standard ensembles, as Hall does) with a psychological dimension definitely raised a specter, but I don’t think Rossini had bushy eyebrows, a moustache, and a cigar. It’s possible to work up an academic thesis about the depth and seriousness of anything meant humorously, and the liner notes accompanying this release strive earnestly to accomplish this. But sometimes the light is just that—all light, no shadows; and this composer wasn’t a post-modernist.

Like most other Rossini operas, for many years La cenerentola went unperformed because of changing public tastes that in turn led to an absence of singers who could handle the parts. This was a vicious circle—for a lack of appropriate voices meant a lack of productions, and the absence of productions meant no need to train the voices. What are Rossini voices? They require the same qualities that can be found in other bel canto music: great agility, firm breath support, good enunciation, proper score-reading habits, and schooling in style. All of these qualities can be found in varying degrees in the seven performers who take a major stage part in this La cenerentola . Please note this; because if you ever doubted we’re entering a renewed age of bel canto , then a Rossini production that can boast of three basses, a tenor, two sopranos, and a mezzo, all reasonably fluent in coloratura, is surely as good an indication as any. However, I will single out only Ruxandra Donose for praise. Hers is a dusky mezzo, even in coloration, volume, and support across the registers. The voice is able to handle exacting coloratura without any aspiration or evidence of strain. Her forthright, focused attack in her final aria (“Non più mesta”) brought memories of Marilyn Horne in the 1970s; and like Horne, Donose builds her part from the text, not by working around it. A young singer with little as yet on CD or DVD, she clearly bears watching.

Jurowski is incisive, and alert to his singers’ needs. Sound is available in LPCM stereo and surround sound, while the video is offered in 16:9 anamorphic. Finally, there are subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian, as well as one of those bits-and-pieces interviews (entitled “Insights,” just in case you missed what it offered) that tries to sell a darker view of the opera. It doesn’t work, but it also doesn’t matter. This production of La cenerentola was a good one for Rossini, and the audience agreed. I think you will, too.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal

Picture Format: 1080i; 16:9
Sound Format: 5.0 and 2.0 PCM audio
Running Time: 187 min
Region Code: All region
Subtitles: English/French/German/Spanish/Italian

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Works on This Recording

La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Nathan Berg (Baritone), Luciano Di Pasquale (Bass), Ruxandra Donose (Mezzo Soprano),
Raquela Sheeran (Voice), Lucia Cirillo (Soprano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 

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