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Despite an element of self-borrowing (Il Turco in Italia furnishes several items) and some loss of refinement in the change from a Parisian to a Neapolitan setting, La Gazzetta's imbecillic comic libretto, based on a pompous arriviste who advertises his daughter's eligibility in the paper, only to be bested by her and her young lover, is as nimble as Mozart. Brilliant recitative and a clutch of splendid ensembles aside (including a zestful buffo male trio and classic 'amazed' chorus), the area where Rossini consistently scores is in his precise definition of character.

Carla Huhtanen as Lisetta and Donald Maxwell as Don Domponio in the Garsington Opera 2001 production of 'La gazzetta'. Photo (c) 2001 Keith Saunders

There are plenty : the resistant, part-coloratura daughter (Canadian Carla Huhtenen, overreliant on front vowels yet splendid whether fainting or fuming); the canny boyfriend (the resourceful Robert Poulton : 'In bosco ombroso' revealed him at his best); the more lyrical Alberto (tenor Mark Milhofer, on rapt form for the melting 'O lusinghiero amor'); the shy Doralice (Tuva Semmingsen, a mellow Norwegian mezzo, beautifully picked out by two clarinets, then oboe and pecking strings); a Despina and Don Alfonso-like duo of 'hotel staff' (Kate Flowers and Andrew Slater); and the Molièresque buffo father, Don Pomponio Storione (Donald Maxwell), whose ostentatious motorized arrival betrays the classic hallmarks of the worldly nouveau riche and set the perfect tone for a thoroughly diverting evening.

Robert Poulton as Filippo and members of the company in the Garsington Opera 2001 production of 'La gazzetta'. Photo (c) 2001 Keith Saunders


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Copyright © 9 August 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK




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