Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)
Il Barbiere di Siviglia - complete - (1816)
Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo soprano) - Rosina
David Kuebler (tenor) - Count Almaviva
Gino Quilico (baritone) - Figaro
Carlos Feller (bass) - Bartolo
Robert Lloyd (bass) - Basilio
Klaus Bruch (tenor) - Fiorillo
Edith Kertesz-Gabry (soprano) - Bertha
Paul Kappeler (bass) - Ambrogio
Chorus of Cologne City Opera
Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart/Gabriele Ferro
Stage Direction by Michael Hampe, Video Direction by Claus Viller
recorded at the 1988 Schwetzingen Festival (DVD).
ARTHAUS 100090 [157 minutes]


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This performance has been in the catalogue for a while and is now released in tandem with L’Italiana in Algeri from the same source.

This was one of Cecilia Bartoli’s early performances preserved on film. All of her well known characteristics are there in infancy, so to speak. Her coloratura singing is extremely impressive, together with her fine tone, which has deteriorated somewhat as her career has developed. In this performance there is nothing of the stridency which mars some of her recent concert performances. In those days however, her voice was never powerful and this shows clearly in this recording.

That gets the main concerns about this performance out of the way. Figaro is superb in both characterisation and diction, and although Rossini rarely calls for great theatrical skills, his comic timing is superb. Based upon his performance, he should have got star billing, but Miss Bartoli manages this, probably because it is her presence that will generate most sales.

The theatre where the opera is set is very small, thus ensuring a packed house, and there is little or no audience noise to distract one’s attention from the stage action. The sets, because of the small stage dimensions are somewhat cramped, but are very tasteful, in traditional design, which is all to the good for me. This provides a wonderful backdrop for the very talented group of principals to ply their trade.

Almaviva, sung by David Kuebler, tends to the school of funny faces, but his voice and characterisation are both fine, if not to the standard of Figaro. When we come to the basses, Robert Lloyd is absolutely superb as Basilio and it is a great shame that his part isn’t longer to give us more of an opportunity to appreciate his wonderfully rich voice. Staying with the basses, Carlos Feller is reasonable as Bartolo, his characterisation being first class, but his diction sometimes runs out of synch with the other singers in the ensemble pieces. Sometimes, I felt, he would have appreciated the conductor not moving things on quite so fast.

This leads me to the hero of the proceedings – the conductor Gabriele Ferro. He moves the drama on at a cracking pace, and the orchestra deliver the goods in a very impressive manner. It is wonderful to hear a German radio orchestra sounding so idiomatic in Rossini, and the playing is a constant joy.

I can’t leave without mentioning the Bertha of Edith Kertesz-Gabry. Her intonation and characterisation is superb, and in the ensembles, she completely swamps young Miss Bartoli, proving once again that the super-star is probably much better in the recording studio than in the theatre.

Picture quality and sound are first rate, and anyone buying this DVD is in for a treat.

John Phillips

 



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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Sheva
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