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Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Danielle de Niese (Rosina), Alessandro Corbelli (Dr Bartolo), Björn Bürger (Figaro), Taylor Stayton (Count Almaviva), Christophoros Stamboglis (Basilio), Janis Kelly (Berta)
The Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Enrique Mazzola
rec. live, Glyndebourne, 21 June 2016
La Cenerentola
Ruxandra Donose (Cenerentola), Maxim Mironov (Don Ramiro), Simone Alberghini (Dandini), Luciano di Pasquale (Don Magnifico), Raquela Sheeran (Clorinda), Lucia Cirillo (Tisbe), Nathan Berg (Alidoro)
The Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
rec. live, Glyndebourne, 2 and 4 June 2005
Sound Format (both operas) LPCM Stereo and PCM5.0 Surround; Picture Format 16:9, 1080i; All Regions: Subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian (Cenerentola), and English, German, French, Japanese and Korean (Barber).
OPUS ARTE OA1277BD DVD [3 discs: 359 mins]

These two discs, previously released separately, have been reissued together in a slip case at less than half the original price. The individual DVDs were given (slightly) mixed but largely positive reviews before on MWI (Il Barbiere ~ Cenerentola), but coupled together they make a fair bargain. My own view is that there are better Barbers out there, though this one is serviceable at the very least, though there are not many better Cinderellas. The MusicWeb review of this double pack in its Blu-ray format was entirely positive also (see end of this review).

This Il Barbiere di Siviglia was filmed in 2016 at Glyndebourne when it was new – the production (not the work) was new that is, mounted because the work itself was exactly two hundred years old. The costumes have some Spanish references, but are basically what I call “modish modern” with Bartolo in a suit and tie for instance. The patterned back wall dominates the setting, and serves for both indoor and outdoor scenes. There is little in the way of props or furniture, though several keyboards are deployed, and not only for the music lesson. The direction of Annabel Arden is fluent and effective, if inevitably dependent on stock buffo tropes and gestures – I doubt she had much to tell Alessandro Corbelli about the role of Dr Bartolo, which he must have sung many times, maybe with more sap in the voice than in 2016, but his fluency in very swift patter is still remarkable.

The casting at Glyndebourne is well up to the house Rossini tradition and standards. Danielle de Niese is fine vocally and in terms of characterisation – though others have made more of ‘Una voce poco fa’. She is a natural stage animal and looks the part. Figaro is superbly done by Björn Bürger in his first production in the role, a fixer as he says but also a charmer. Taylor Stayton’s tenor is just right for Almaviva as is Christophoros Stamboglis’s bass for Basilio. Janis Kelly as Rosina's maid Berta is rather overplayed, but still mightily cheered at the end. The ensemble work is good and the London Philharmonic is splendid under the direction of the impressive Enrique Mazzola - who also gets in on the action a little, including telling the opening guitar-toting chorus that one guitar will be enough. There are a couple of extras which are worth watching perhaps once only, as is usually the way with such features. The booklet has a good note by Nicholas Till, in French, German, and English, but no track listing.

La Cenerentola (Cinderella) of course is not quite what we all once heard at bedtime. No mouse-drawn pumpkin coach or glass slipper, and the wicked stepmother has become a nasty broke aristocratic male who has used up Cinders’ money and claims she is dead – even as she stands beside him. So not exactly straight-up opera buffa, but a comedy shot through with sentiment and pathos, and a good production and performance needs to capture that blend. Hall, Jurowski and cast do just that. Ruxandra Donose sings and acts very well indeed in the title role, while the Russian tenor Maxim Mironov’s Don Ramiro matches her for vocal and personal charisma; the sisters are nicely characterised, and Dandini the servant (and at times the puppet-master of the plot) is ably taken by Simone Alberghini, while it is hard to imagine a more revolting father – physically and morally – than the outstanding Don Magnifico of Luciano di Pasquale. Sets and costumes are naturalistic and the action realistic, while the LPO responds with great alertness to Jurowski’s lively conducting. Hall and Jurowski discuss this important production in an extra on the disc. The doyen of Rossini authorities Richard Osborne, in his recent “Gramophone Collection” piece on the opera, selected it as the best of the filmed accounts, “a staging for all seasons”.

The video and audio are very good on both DVDs, and this double pack must be one of the great bargains for Rossini opera on film.

Roy Westbrook

Previous review (Blu-ray): Dave Billinge

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