Rossini L'Italiana in Algeri

Recorded live at the Rococo Theatre during the Schwetzingen Festival, 1987 This DVD combines excellent casting and highly effective staging, well caught by fine camera-work and good recorded sound

Author: 
John Steane

Rossini L'Italiana in Algeri

  • (L')Italiana in Algeri, '(The) Italian Girl in Algiers'

Bravi tutti! For a start, the house and stage: just the right size. And then, comprehensively, the whole team, with every aspect of the production delightfully cared for. Ralf Weikert conducts with zestful elegance, and the excellent players respond. The chorus is alert and precise, the camera catching never a lifeless face and several very funny ones. Each of the soloists fits the part, working both as individuals and as an ensemble. The comic roles are played amusingly without clowning. Doris Soffel as Isabella has charm and dignity, and if ‘sparkle’ is not quite the word, she is at least innocent of the self-conscious brilliance that sometimes goes with that quality and wears out its welcome. The range and runs are well managed, though she is probably best in the lyrical phrases of the cavatina ‘Per lui che adoro’ and the aristocracy of her bearing in ‘Pensa alla patria’. The Mustafa, Gunter von Kannen, specialises in comic roles but probably not in rapid passagework, of which there is much here; nevertheless, his weighty, sonorous voice establishes character and his expressive mouth and eyes do the rest. And a great asset is the American tenor, Robert Gambill, who is a real Rossini singer, a lively actor and an appropriately good-looking young man.
But for once the producer deserves top billing: he does his rightful job extremely well and doesn’t exceed it. All the staging is effective, graceful and confident. With sets and costumes that are a distinct pleasure to look at, Michael Hampe’s production is never short of good ideas and never imposes ‘concepts’. It puts faith in Rossini, the performers and the audience, and provides a delightful evening’s entertainment whether in the theatre or with excellent sound on the DVD.'

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