Notes and Editorial Reviews
Fine performances of II barbiere di Siviglia are as rare as they are treasurable, which makes the long-awaited reissue of this celebrated 1963 Glyndebourne set doubly welcome. It is a near-perfect ensemble performance, a masterly account of the score to set beside the superbly styled, Callas-led HMV set (SLS853, 12/74) and the blithe, very engaging (though occasionally annoyingly foreshortened) Bartoletti set with Gianna d'Angelo on DG Privilege (2728 005, 2/75).
Gui conducts with perfect poise, paying Out the rhythms with equanimity whilst catching, too, the score's trenchancy and wit, the ardour and energy which proclaim the work's Spanish origin. The Rosina herself is properly Spanish, Victoria de los Angeles, smiling and
alert. Does she perhaps now and then affect too strong a strain of romantic pathos? Perhaps, but this is an entrancing performance, and Alva, too, is as sweet-toned as he has ever been in the role on record. Bruscantini, that most mercurial of Figaros, is in excellent voice, always allowing the comedy to well up from within the music. (How often Figaros impose themselves on to Rossini's score!) Ian Wallace's beautifully sung and immensely engaging Dr Bartolo, ripe and benign, is a classic portrait in the Glyndebourne tradition. Carlo Cava is a sonorous Basilio, though, that said, he hasn't quite the plumb-line accuracy of Zaccaria on the rival Callas set (Zaccaria is far more comically obtuse in the great quintet "Buona sera"). He sings his Calumny Aria, very properly, in D, reverting to the usual downward transposition to C for the Bartoletti set in which he also appears. In spite of some small cuts in two dramatically crucial recitatives this is, all in all, an excellent version of 11 barbiere. The recording, true to the Glyndebourne ambience, is very immediate, a little dry, vividly 'produced' for stereo. Listening to the Act 1 finale, beautifully unfurled, or the whole of Act 2 as Gui and his team present it to us, it is easy to imagine .one self seated nicely forward in the Glyndebourne stalls. Some consolation, at least, for those of us who nowadays find it very difficult to secure tickets for heavily booked Glyndebourne performances.
-- Gramophone [7/1979], reviewing an earlier reissue
Works on This Recording
Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini
John Rhys Evans (Baritone),
Victoria de los Angeles (Soprano),
Luigi Alva (Tenor),
Ian Wallace (Bass),
Carlo Cava (Bass Baritone),
Laura Sarti (Soprano),
Duncan Robertson (Tenor),
Sesto Bruscantini (Baritone),
Harold Williams (Baritone)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Written: 1816; Italy
Date of Recording: 09/1962
Venue: EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London
Length: 141 Minutes 26 Secs.
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