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<<  -- 4 --  Roderic Dunnett    COMIC TOUCHES

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From his first 'Tutto e deserto' Florez looked and sounded on fabulous form. This, in his case, means restrained. The thing that most detracted from the young Argentinian tenor's potentially fine Elvino in Bellini's La Sonnambula last season was his tendency to belt everything out. This house has a subtle enough acoustic to survive with less; and as Ramiro, happily, he resolutely declined to hammer everything. The result was a subtler, more rounded performance (though one couldn't help noticing he seemed more princely as the valet than when, curiously white-clad, he reassumed his identity as Salerno's future ruler).

Juan Diego Florez as Don Ramiro disguised as his chauffeur. Photo : Clive Barda/Performing Arts Library
Juan Diego Florez as Don Ramiro disguised as his chauffeur. Photo : Clive Barda/Performing Arts Library

Christian Fenouillat's sets (he serves up an enjoyably understated suggestion of Don Magnifico's crumbling Palazzo in scene I) and Christophe Forey's lighting suddenly came into their own as Cinderella's fortunes, abetted by the magic wand of Italian bass-baritone Lorenzo Regazzo's Alidoro -- a resplendent voice indeed, who should henceforth be a Royal Opera regular -- looked up. The appearance of the sky blue Rolls-Royce (if so it was : it was difficult to descry the tell-tale bonnet decoration) and a splendid blue cyclorama, prefaced by a burst of pink along the side walls, as if to say 'You've won the Lottery, lass', made for a glittering climax.

Lorenzo Regazzo as Alidoro proclaims Cinderella's virtues. Photo : Clive Barda/Performing Arts Library
Lorenzo Regazzo as Alidoro proclaims Cinderella's virtues. Photo : Clive Barda/Performing Arts Library

Pizzicato bassoon again made the running -- nicely judged timing by Rossini, and first rate playing by these orchestral soloists too. Much fun was had in the palace : Alessandro Corbelli's Dandini -- he has sung Don Alfonso in Cosi at the Royal Opera -- seemed to me yet another voice of real note : not only has it massive weight; he has, moreover, a feel for comic acting that looked like an on-form Dennis O'Neill remoulded as a buffone bass. His sotto voces were fun; the patter duet 'zitto zitto, piano piano' with Ramiro, with Florez nattily taking his cue from Corbelli, was as entertainingly crisp as crisp can be, with Pido and the orchestral players again in polished attendance, light and piquant.

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Copyright © 7 February 2003 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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