In my mind Il Viaggio a Reims didn't deserve to be forgotten in the way it did, it is so much fun and contains so much glorious music, easily one of my favourite Rossinis actually. And this production is just fantastic, one of the best opera productions I've seen recently and a must-watch or hear(as it is on audio CD as well as on Youtube)for anybody who loves Rossini or wishes to be acquainted with him. The costumes and sets are sumptuous, with the picture and sound quality better than average and the camera work focused throughout. The whole production brims with energy, right from the orchestral playing, that is so lively it is fit to burst to Claudio Abbado's conducting which never lets the enthusiasm drop. The pace is literally breakneck and all the better for it, while the concertato for 14 voices is perfect in every way possible.
And what to say about the cast? Some of the best singers of their kind here, and every single one of them perfect for their roles. Sylvia McNair's Corrina is superb, the colouratura is acute, the pattering is crisp and clear and she epitomises charm. Lucia Valentini-Terrani is a splendidly-characterised Marchesa with a firm voice, Luciana Serra shows a commanding presence and vocal agility as the Contessa and I just wish Cheryl Studer did more Rossini judging from her Madama Cortese. Raul Gimanez is a vocally sonorous Cavalier, Samuel Ramey is still darkly sumptuous in voice and is a good presence as Lord Sidney, William Matteuzzi is appealing as Libenskof and Ruggero Raimondi once again proves why he is considered such an extraordinary singing-actor. Of the more secondary roles, Enzo Dara, no stranger to Rossini himself stands out, with some of the best comic timing of the cast, and Lucio Gallo is effective(even if I prefer his Figaro, Lescaut and especially Jack Rance) as Alvaro. While Desdemona and Suor Angelica show off her musicality even more, a young Barbara Frittoli is promising here.
Overall, a masterpiece both as a production and an opera. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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