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Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia / Domingo, Battle, Abbado

Release Date: 04/13/1993 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 435763   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Kathleen BattleRuggero RaimondiLucio GalloCarlos Chausson,   ... 
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of EuropeVenice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 34 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ROSSINI Il barbiere di Siviglia Claudio Abbado, cond; Frank Lopardo ( Almaviva ); Placido Domingo ( Figaro ); Kathleen Battle ( Rosina ); Lucio Gallo ( Dr. Bartolo ); Ruggero Raimondi ( Don Basilio ); Carlos Chausson ( Fiorello ); Gabriele Sima ( Read more Berta ); Goran Simic ( Official ); Gran Teatro La Fenice Ch; C O of Europe DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 435763 (2 CDs: 154:41 Text and Translation)

Here was a moment frozen in time: a recording of Rossini’s greatest comic opera at a point when historical performance practice was still fun to listen to, featuring a cast at a crossroads. Abbado uses a light, brilliant orchestra that is not hung up on impressing us with its stupid “straight tone,” Lopardo sings the most dazzling Almaviva on records (sorry, Juan Diego Flórez!), Battle gives us a delightful cross between a soprano and a mezzo Rosina, and Domingo essays his first baritone role on records. Of course, no one then had any inkling of what was to come—that Battle, immensely gifted (I still think her the greatest technician and most beautiful voice in her range in the entire 20th century) was about to shoot herself in the foot and sabotage her international career, that within a few years Lopardo would jettison his dazzling bel canto technique for heavier roles more suited to his unusually dark timbre, or that a decade and a half hence Domingo would become almost as well known for singing baritone roles as tenor. All that was in the future when this recording was made, yet it all worked, and not just vocally. This is the most comical and enjoyable performance of Il barbiere put on record since Mercedes Capsir, Dino Borgioli, Riccardo Stracciari, and Salvatore Baccaloni made their old classic set for Columbia in 1929.

Everything in this performance works. In Domingo’s case, this surprised me quite a bit. A few months before this record was released, I saw him on PBS in a “gimmick” film clip where he sang both Almaviva’s and Figaro’s music in the “All’idea di quel metallo” duet, and his singing there—in both ranges—lacked the proper grace and flow for the music. Thus I was both amazed and delighted to hear that, somehow, he got it into gear for these sessions. And listen to the comic interplay between all of the principals—they’re all having fun. When was the last time you heard a performance of Barbiere, or any comic opera for that matter, that really sounded funny?

Happily, the DG engineers caught all of this in clear, crisp, forward digital sound that will hopefully last a lifetime. I certainly can’t imagine a better recording or performance of this opera. This one is a true classic.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Kathleen Battle (Soprano), Ruggero Raimondi (Bass), Lucio Gallo (Baritone),
Carlos Chausson (Baritone), Gabriela Sima (Mezzo Soprano), Frank Lopardo (Tenor),
Ronald Schneider (Baritone), Goran Simic (Bass), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Venice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/1992 
Venue:  Teatro Comunale, Ferrara, Italy 
Length: 154 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: Placido Domingo sings the baritone part in this production. 

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