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They are completists in Pesaro -- the Fondazione Rossini has the task of preparing researched scores and performance histories of all the operas. The Festival seeks to offer productions that will, over the years, lay the oeuvre before the public. That, necessarily, means taking all of the great, the good, the mediocre and the justifiably neglected on board. It's a tremendously exciting challenge for the devotees. It can, however, be a challenge a tad too far for those with less than fanatical enthusiasm.

Silvia Tro Santafe' as Ernestina in 'L'equivoco Stravagante'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi
Silvia Tro Santafe' as Ernestina in 'L'equivoco Stravagante'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi

Early works were the order of the day for the 2002 Festival. L'equivoco stravagante (something like: The Absurd Misunderstanding) was the earliest. Rossini's third opera, it was first performed at the Teatro del Corso, Bologna in 1811. There are, to modern sensibilities, all manner of explosive possibilities in this story of Ernestina (daughter of a newly-successful vegetable wholesaler) who, inter alia, is passed-off as a castrated boy disguised to avoid military service by her dedicated suitor and a couple of well-meaning servants. All, inevitably, goes wrong before it comes right.

Silvia Tro Santafe' as Ernestina in the 2002 Rossini Opera Festival production of 'L'equivoco Stravagante'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi
Silvia Tro Santafe' as Ernestina in the 2002 Rossini Opera Festival production of 'L'equivoco Stravagante'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi

Emilio Sagi's production started really well with container trucks emblazoned with the vegetable-king's name, got even better with his company's boardroom festooned with amusing photos of the great man but, from the first, never really took a convincing grasp of the singers' movements. In the first Act, there was far too much chasing around and climbing over the grandly extravagant corporate desk. Later, a similar ploy revolved (rather too literally), around a putatively sexy mirrored couch. All a bit 'one note' in terms of stage movement.

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Copyright © 8 September 2002 David Wilkins, Eastbourne, Sussex, UK

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