<< -- 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
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
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
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
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