I bought this DVD because I am shortly going to hear Juan Diego Florez and Joyce di Donato do this opera at Covent Garden. Doing this, I can enjoy the music more without having to keep on looking at the surtitles. In fact, this elderly recording from La Scala is the only one available so I had no choice in the matter. The recording certainly looks its age. It is very sombrely lit, suggesting that the film director could not or would not boost the theatre lighting for the recording. It is also a bit fuzzy and is shot in squarevision (ie a 4:3 aspect ratio).
Rossini's opera concentrates on the romantic interest in Sir Walter Scott's narrative poem giving it very little in the way of political or historical context. King James is apparently engaged in a war with rebellious highlanders but still has time to wander around incognito, disguised as Uberto. He meets the beautiful Elena, daughter of Douglas of Angus, or is it Angus of Douglas? Anyway, Douglas, or Angus, has joined the rebel Highlanders led by Rodrigo to whom he has betrothed Elena. Despite being wooed by the king and by Rodrigo, Elena, in fact, has a lover named Malcolm.
I was disappointed by June Anderson's performance as Elena. She is a noted bel canto performer but there is just no nuance in her singing. Even worse is Rockwell Blake as Uberto. He goes around with a dead bird on his head and a silly grin on his face, as if he is auditioning for the Book of Mormon. His voice sounds strained and he can't do the coloratura. Rossini's music is up to scratch and I kept on thinking this would sound really good if sung by Joyce di Donato and Juan Diego Florez.
Chris Merritt gives a rousing performance as Rodrigo although he has a tendency to shout, rather than sing, his high notes. Unfortunately, the sight of a fat Scotsman with a dirty bandage round his head does bring Rab C Nesbitt to mind. The best performance comes from Martine Dupuy in the trouser role of Malcolm. This is all the more impressive since she has to perform in a Yogi Bear costume.
This opera ends rather like La Cenerentola with everyone living happily ever after. Also like La Cenerentola, it finishes with a coloratura tour de force. Tanti Affetti has become Joyce di Donato's party piece over the last 3 years, something that she brings out for gala occasions. In contrast, hearing June Anderson's rendition of the same piece was quite a disappointment.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?