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Notes and Editorial Reviews
L’occasione fa il ladro is the most scenically complex of Rossini’s five one-act operas, involving two sets (an inn and the Marchesa’s “Grand’atrio terreno” in her “elegantemente adbabbato” house). In this video, a visual element is added during the sinfonia, a storm scene (the music recycled from La pietra del paragone and later used in Il barbiere di Siviglia). A silhouetted horse and carriage are seen racing through driving rain before a wheel comes off, forcing a stay at the inn. If you’ve ever seen the video of La cenerentola from the Salzburg Festival, also directed by Michael Hampe, it’s the same gimmick. It’s clever and fun to watch.
The stock buffa characters are more or less present in L’occasione fa il ladro; prima
and seconda donnas, primo and secondo buffas, primo and secondo mezzo carattere, yet Rossini and librettist Privadali use them in some unorthodox ways. The plot revolves around stolen and switched identities, an arranged marriage (the future bride and groom have never met—but their fathers are friends and want to unite the two families), and romantic deceptions. Okay, so you can drive an aircraft carrier through the holes in the logic; turn your pretenders on and enjoy 94 minutes of mischief and wonderful, tuneful music.
This is a handsome production. The attractive sets and costumes are traditional and fit the locale and period. The scene at the Marchessa’s villa, with a view of Naples Bay, begins on a sunny morning. As the opera progresses, the sun shades are drawn and later raised as the sun sets. A fine cast has been assembled, and Michael Hampe’s direction is sensible and straightforward, and he doesn’t interfere with the story by trying to call attention to himself.
This production, a collaboration between the Oper der Stadt Köln and the Opéra de Montpellier, is part of a quartet of the Rossini one-act operas performed in the Rokokotheater Schetzingen as part of the Schwetzinger Festival. The intimate theater eliminates the need to blast to the back of a big house, permitting the cast to bring us performances that are highlighted with many acting and vocal subtleties. A nice sense of ensemble helps to bring this production merrily to life. Conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti seemed to love Rossini, his eyes light up and twinkle as he punctuates the felicities of Rossini’s orchestrations. Without an overture, he doesn’t have as much opportunity to play to the camera as he does in the other entries in this series, where sometimes he mugs shamelessly, but he sets the tone for the froth that follows.
Opportunities to experience L’occasione fa il ladro are limited, especially when compared to several of Rossini’s better-known works. This is the only DVD currently available. There is, however, a CD sold as part of an eight-disc set that includes all five one-act operas (Brilliant Classics 92399, previously released on Claves), and a two-CD album from Ricordi Fonit Cetra with Luciana Serra and Raúl Giménez that unfortunately does not seem to be currently available. The Brilliant Classics was studio recorded; the Fonit Cetra was recorded during performance.
I’ve enjoyed these four Rossini Schwetzinger Festival productions for years; they remain fresh and inviting each time they are viewed. The casts are uniformly good, Hampe’s directing is unaffected, with many clever bits of business, and Gelmetti lets us enjoy Rossini’s merry tunes.
-- David L. Kirk, FANFARE
Susan Patterson · Robert Gambill · Natale de Carolis · Monica Bacelli · Alessandro Corbelli · Stuart Kale
Directed for Stage by Michael Hampe
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Gianluigi Gelmetti, conductor
Picture Format: NTSC · 4:3 fullscreen
Sound Formats: PCM Stereo · Dolby Digital 5.1 · DTS 5.1
Subtitles: Italian, English, German, French, Spanish
Booklet Notes: English, German, French
Running Time: 98 mins
Works on This Recording
L'occasione fa il ladro by Gioachino Rossini
Monica Bacelli (Mezzo Soprano),
Robert Gambill (Tenor),
Susan Patterson (Soprano),
Natale de Carolis (Bass Baritone),
Stuart Kale (Tenor),
Alessandro Corbelli (Baritone)
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1812; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Rossini at his best-a great production May 21, 2012
By William H. (Courtenay , BC) See All My Reviews
"Why this gem of a Rossini opera is not performed more often is a sad fact. Even though this is early Rossini it stands up in ideas and singing to the better know Cenerentola and Il Barbier . The cast is superb, the costumes gorgeous, the music fabulous, the stage direction as good as it gets, this production is a gem. I cant wait to get the other three one-act Rossini operas put out by Euroarts at the same time as this was issued.Rossini at his best ! "