Music and Vision homepage Cadenza Programme Note Library - Programme Notes by Mike Wheeler

 

<<  -- 5 --  David Wilkins    YOUTHFUL COMEDIES

-------------------------------

After the Auditorium Pedrotti (part of the Conservatory) for L'equivoco and the Palafestival (a well-converted sports' venue) for La Pietra, it was a special treat to enter the splendid luxury of the Teatro Rossini itself for Il Turco in Italia. Pretty heart-warming, too, to be met with a more historically conventional, less gimmicky and rather astute production from Guido De Monticelli.

Ildar Abdrazakov as Selim in the 2002 Rossini Opera Festival production of 'Il Turco in Italia'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi
Ildar Abdrazakov as Selim in the 2002 Rossini Opera Festival production of 'Il Turco in Italia'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi

This opera, first performed at La Scala in 1814 and unjustly underappreciated by the Milanese of the time, is an undoubtedly fine work. It's fun (and, better, it's genuinely funny). The endearing nonsense of its plot: all gypsies and glamorous Orientals, avaricious wives and cuckolded husbands, mistaken identities and true love ultimately victorious is a hoot from first to last. Add a set-design that includes an opulent ship for the Turk, Selim, to come and go with the magnificent absurdity of Captain Pugwash and the ingenious conceit of a writer who drags an increasingly burdensome collection of books behind him and you have a production of genuine wit on your hands.

Roberto de Candia as Prosdocimo (left) and Allesandro Corbelli as Geronio in 'Il Turco in Italia'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi
Roberto de Candia as Prosdocimo (left) and Allesandro Corbelli as Geronio in 'Il Turco in Italia'. Photo © Amati Bacciardi

Musical standards came pretty good after a distinctly uncertain overture. Riccardo Frizza seemed to have the most instinctive feel for pacing Rossini comedy of the Festival's three conductors. Ildar Abdrazakov looked and sounded every inch the proud Selim. He has plenty of tone as well as the facility for supple vocal acrobatics when required. He has worked with Gergiev in St Petersburg as well as in the major Italian houses and looks to have a career worth following. Roberto De Candia impressed as the ever-observant poet, Prosdocimo, and Patrizia Ciofi's Fiorilla had both the stage and vocal versatility to portray herself as a rather touching victim along with mistress of sustained drama in her Act 2 showstopper.

From left to right: Matthew Polenzani as Narciso, Allesandro Corbelli as Geronio, Ildar Abdrazakov as Selim and Patrizia Ciofi as Fiorilla. Photo © Amati Bacciardi
From left to right: Matthew Polenzani as Narciso, Allesandro Corbelli as Geronio, Ildar Abdrazakov as Selim and Patrizia Ciofi as Fiorilla. Photo © Amati Bacciardi

Overall, the opera productions of Pesaro 2002 offered plenty to celebrate along with the inevitable causes for doubt and disappointment. Perhaps the choice of three youthful comedies on consecutive evenings is asking for a lot of audience affability and standards weren't always those you might expect of a dedicated international festival. Nevertheless, it's a happy enough place when en fête, embraceable and free of any pomposity or stuffiness. You don't have to be an unsceptical, fully-paid-up Rossini devotee to enjoy its musical charms and there are always the diversions of Urbino's great art and even the lure of the Adriatic to appeal to those who don't want to save all their sins for old age.

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

-------

ONSTAGE - OPERA FEATURES AT MUSIC & VISION

THE ROSSINI OPERA FESTIVAL

THE ROSSINI FOUNDATION

 << Music & Vision home                  Of head and heart >>