Davide Livermore, stage director Read more Accademia di Belle Arti di Urbino, stage and costume design
Nicolas Bovey, lighting designer
Recorded live at the Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro, 2010
- Making of Demetrio e Polibio
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Korean
Running time: 115 mins (opera) + 14 mins (bonus)
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
R E V I E W: 3662870.az_ROSSINI_Demetrio_Polibio_Corrado.html ROSSINI Demetrio e Polibio • Corrado Rovaris, cond; Maria José Moreno (Lisinga); Victoria Zaytseva (Demetrio-Silveno); Yijie Shi (Demetrio-Eumeno); Marco Palazzi (Polibio); O S G. Rossini; Prague Chamber Choir • ARTHAUS 101 647 (DVD:124:00) Live: 2010
This was the very first opera composed by Rossini, who at that time was about 14 years old. Rossini’s friends, the Mombelli family, hired him to compose an opera seria in two acts with a text by Signora Mombelli. However the head of the family thought it advisable not to premiere the work until the young composer became known. Six years later the work was premiered in May 1812 in Rome after the successes of La Cambiale di matrimonio (1810), L’Equivoco stravagante (1811), and earlier in 1812 L’Inganno felice, Ciro in Babiloia, and La Scala di seta. In 1979 the opera was performed for the first time in the 167 years since its premiere, at the Opera Barga Festival. The performance was released on LP by Bongiovanni, and I have it in my collection. It featured Giandomenico Bisi as Eumeno, Aldo Bramante as Polibio, Cecilia Valdenassi as Lisinga, and Benedetta Pecchioli as Silveno. The conductor was Bruno Rigacci. It was favorably reviewed in Opera Magazine, the 1979 festival issue, by Giorgio Gualerszi, who admired the conductor and the production by Francesca Sicilani. The libretto that accompanies the recording lists the regal stage directions.
As Jack Buckley writes in a review of this performance: “The plot of Demetrio e Polibio is a mish-mash of absurd mistaken and assumed identities worthy of the extreme parodies of Aristophanes. In today’s Pesaro, Davide Livermore’s direction piled meaninglessness into meaninglessness.” Therefore the staging is another example of rotten Eurotrash. The characters all have easy-flame torches in their hands. Each has a double prancing around the stage. There are hoisted racks of clothes up and down the stage. In a bonus Livermore explains his staging but he makes no sense whatsoever.
The plot concerns Silveno the adopted son of Polibio. Polibio tells Silveno that he wishes him to marry his daughter Lisinga. Silveno’s actual father, Demetrio, the ruler of Syria, comes to Polibio’s court disguised as his ambassador Eumeno to get his son back. Polibio refuses Eumeno’s request. After the young couple’s wedding ceremony, Eumeno enters the palace unseen. However instead of capturing Silveno, he takes Lisinga by mistake. Polibio and Silveno discover the place where Eumeno is keeping Lisinga prisoner. Eumeno recognizes the medallion around Silveno’s neck that provides proof that he is the boy’s father. At the end they all embrace and Eumeno reveals his true identity as the King of Syria and approves of his son’s marriage to Lisinga.
There are only four characters Polibio is sung by a baritone; Silveno is a trouser role for a mezzo-soprano; Lisinga is a coloratura soprano; and Eumeno is a tenor. Yijie Shi, who sings the role of Eumeno, is the vocal star of this performance. He has an excellent technique and a pleasing lyric sound. Marco Palazzi is a good Polibio although he sometimes lacks the range for high notes. Victoria Zaytseva sings well in the trouser role of Silveno and acts quite well. Maria José Moreno as Lisinga has problems with the demands of the coloratura that Rossini requires; she is simply adequate.
In his book Rossini A Study in Tragi-Comedy, Francis Toye wrote, “It is easy for us nowadays to see the immaturities and the weakness of Demetrio e Polibio, defects due in part to the amateurishness of the libretto, which, moreover, the composer never even saw as a whole, receiving (and in fact being paid for) each number singly. Nevertheless there are some beautiful moments in it, notably the charming duet for the two girls, the finale of the first act, and especially a quartet. For it must not be forgotten that Demetrio e Polibio was the product of a boy of fourteen. In any case the opera remains one of the most remarkable instances of precocity in the history of music.”
The booklet contains a listing and timing of the tracks, and interesting notes by Reto Müller translated into English by Alan Seaton. The conducting by Corrado Rovaris is fine and the quality of the picture is excellent. Despite the rotten production this rare opera is an example of the genius of the young Rossini and is highly recommended to all lovers of the composer.