ROSSINI’S TURK IN ITALY

ARTISTS

Erwin Schrott (Selim), Olga Perityatko (Fiorella), Nicola Alaimo (Geronio), René Barbera (Narciso), Pietro Spagnoli (Prosdocimo), Cecilia Molinari (Zaida), Pietro Adaini (Albazar)

Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini, Chorus of the Teatro Della Fortuna M. Agostini, Speranza Scappucci, conductor.

BACKGROUND

The CMAJOR/UNITEL video release of Gioacchino Rossini’s Il turco in Italia is a co-production of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and Valencia’s Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.

PERFORMANCE

Completely reimagined as an old-fashioned Hollywood film by director Davide Livermore, the production design and staging, and the singing of all seven principals compares not too favorably to nearly a dozen other sound and video recordings of Rossini’s comic masterpiece.

If you are like I am unfavorably predisposed against modern dress stagings of 19th century operas, then the David Livermore version of Rossini’s The Turk in Italy might not be your cup of Turkish coffee.

As is often the case with this type of adaptation, shtick takes the place of style, in the not very comic acting style, in the tacky costumes, and in the drab physical production of Davide Livermore, one in which visual cliches such as waving strands of blue fabric used to symbolize the waves of the ocean are tiresomely used again and again to little effect.

The whole wrong-headed process starts with Rossini’s delightful overture which here is turned into a silly and visually confusing dumb show. From that point on things start to go South.

In the cast, the veteran Uruguayan bass baritone Erwin Short and the Russian light soprano Olga Peretyatko sing well and act decently but do little to erase memories of the likes of Maria Callas and Nicola Rossi-Lemeni in the central roles of the Turk Selim and the Italian spitfire Fiorilla.

Among the cast’s stand outs, the buffo bass baritones Nicola Alaimo and Pietro Spagnoli and the leggiero tenor Pietro Spagnoli are left to their own devices by the constraining Livermore staging, which turns out this DVD production into yet another dispiriting exercise in directorial wrong-headedness.

Rafael de Acha © 2023

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