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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious!!
Le Comte Ory was Rossini's next to last opera, and was and is considered by many (Berlioz, Gossett, Osborne)as his comedic masterpiece. It is French, not only in language, but in wit and style, not at all like Il Barbiere or L'Italiana. Much of its impact as music drama necessarily derives from how it is staged.

This performance was a Met HD simulcast last...
Published on February 29, 2012 by John G. Gleeson Sr.

versus
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful music not enough to make up for a ridiculous production
John Gleason and MattB are right on in their comments about the singing in this production. But, as far as I am concerned, they completely miss the boat about the production. The professional music critics seem at agree with me.
Out West Arts: "This was Sher's third production for the Met and it felt familiar in a bad way."
New Yorker Magazine: "Busy,...
Published on March 17, 2012 by Amazon Customer


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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious!!, February 29, 2012
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This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
Le Comte Ory was Rossini's next to last opera, and was and is considered by many (Berlioz, Gossett, Osborne)as his comedic masterpiece. It is French, not only in language, but in wit and style, not at all like Il Barbiere or L'Italiana. Much of its impact as music drama necessarily derives from how it is staged.

This performance was a Met HD simulcast last spring, just about one year ago. It has been available on Metplayer and YouTube (in its entirety, with subtitles) for some time, and that is where I became addicted to it. I have watched that little screen for months and am eagerly awaiting its "debut" here on the big screen TV, in surround sound. Here's why:

IT'S WELL SUNG. While every member of the cast sings well, the three principle singers, Juan Diego Florez (JDF), Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato are simply superb. This is an opera that requires true coloratura singing from its leads, and it is difficult to assess which of the three turns in the most ... agile performance, although I think it is Ms Damrau "by a nose". The three are known for their "bel canto technique" (Ms. DiDonato sang at the most recent Grammy a short while ago, the first opera singer ever to do so), and Le Comte gives them all ample opportunities to display their talents and skills, which are prodigious.

IT IS WELL STAGED. In fact, the staging is exquisitely well done. At the risk of provoking a debate, I will note that there appear to be some folks who enjoy simply listening to the music, with less interest in the visual aspects of opera. I do this myself. But opera is a form of drama; it exists on the stage. Where I live, live performances are not; we attend the Met simulcasts when we see something we like, and have accumulated a nice selection of opera on DVD. I believe that my other reviews of operas reflect my conviction that opera is best enjoyed as theatre. And that, gentle reader, is why I am so positive on this disc.

Right from the outset, the dramatic aspects of a comedy that is over 180 years old still work here, and the laughter of the sophisticated NYC opera audience is clear and convincing evidence of this. In Act II, when the wily Count has finally tricked his way into Countess Adele's bedroom, not knowing that his page Isolier has also done so, the events is a large bed, in the dark, when, ostensibly, no one knows "who is doing what to whom" are hugely funny. But it is also clear on repeated viewings that the stage director spent a lot of time on the details, right down to small movements of heads and hands that work synergistically to produce the comedic effects. All the while, the three sing exquisitely.

This is an opera that one can sample before buying. Simply check it out on YouTube and decide whether or not you want to experience it on the big TV screen. To me, this was a no brainer.

Having received and viewed this disc today(3/19), I can attest that the quality is first rate, both as to picture quality and sound. I used the 5.1 DTS setting only and got a superb sound "spread" with a real sense of "the house". The "extras" include the usual, somewhat insipid interviews with the stage director, the costumiere and Mmes DiDonato and Damrau.

As the caption reads, "Delicious"!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A singing nun at the MET... and "she's" a tenor!, March 9, 2012
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This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
I actually saw Rossini's French comedy Le Comte Ory at the MET when the production was new. The staging is by Bartlett Sher and as in his previous two productions for the MET (Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffmann) he has a knack for capturing the essence of the pieces he produces. Needless to say, this production has more in common with his streamlined and clean-cut production of Il Barbiere as opposed to the more plush and spacious staging of Hoffmann. Fortunately the camera work of the video version accurately represents the aura of the production even if in quite a diverse manner compared to seeing the piece in the theater.

The basic concept, which I thought might be somewhat gimmicky, is a stage within a stage where the audience is seeing the prompter and various stagehands manipulating the various stage effects and scenery as would have been done in 1828, the year of the opera's composition. While such a conception could ultimately prove to be overly distracting, the overall effect proves to be quite successful... and especially so in the storm scene in the second act... where stagehands operate a wind machine, produce thunder from a sheet of metal, and even attempt a primitive attempt at producing lightening. Similarly the costumes have the aura of a Nineteenth Century viewpoint of the Middle Ages and as such are an effective component of the staging.

Still, however inventive the production, in a Bel Canto opera it is the singing that counts and here the MET delivers in spades. In the title role as the lecherous Count Ory, who disguises himself as both a holy man and ultimately as a nun to have his way with the Countess Adele, Juan Diego Florèz is in his element. He is of course a natural Rossinian, but here proves to be quite adept at soft singing as well... as he phrases more elegantly than in the past. Yes, he produces vocal fireworks, but this is tempered by a sense of line that suggests that he understands the difference between the French as opposed to Italian Rossini.

As Adele Diana Damreau is a coloratura tour du force. In the past I have found her to be shrill and not very careful or elegant in her phrasing. However, on this occasion she has her voice perfectly under control. Moreover, she looks graceful and ravishingly beautiful... features that are mirrored by her vocal production... and indeed her voice seems to get more stunning and secure as the evening progresses. In the trouser role of the count's page Isolier Joyce DiDonato is simply spectacular... her voice being evenly produced and plush throughout its entire range. Would that she had an aria all to herself! The remainder of the cast is uniformly excellent and except for a minor tendency to push codas a bit too forcefully in an attempt to create additional excitement (enthusiasm that is already written into the music) the conducting of Maurizio Benini is spot on... and especially in the many complicated concerted numbers where ensemble is precise and accurate to the point of perfection

As for the opera itself, I now consider it to be among Rossini's finest creations... and possibly his most advanced opera. This may have been his penultimate operatic composition, and the colossal Guillaume Tell was still to come, but length and massiveness do not necessarily equal superiority. (Think Wagner at his most overblown!) As evidence I point to the stylish and elegant trio that occurs just prior to the opera's finale... I am not even sure if Mozart composed a piece that was more tastefully elegant.

Ah, the trio... the bedroom ménage a trois... the "threesome" that is the climax of the piece. Yes, this unique trio has a man pretending to be a woman and a man played by a woman both attempting to make love to the soprano... that this scene has two "men" who inadvertently end up in each others arms in a passionate embrace is all part of the hilarity... but here we are witness to an amusing quality that is tempered by the urbanity that is a Rossinian trademark. As a result, nothing seems "over the top", but rather always in check, and that enhances the theatrical effectiveness of this marvelous scene.

So at the very least an interesting opera... and had it never been composed I can't imagine how Offenbach and other composers of French comic opera would ever have existed... and even if Rossini's sophisticated and refined version of farce was hardly ever equaled by later purveyors of the genre. Plus, the tunes, the melodies... what a cornucopia of delights!

The only downside to this production concerns the fact that it is based on the version of the score as published in 1828 as opposed to Rossini's autograph score. It seems that some simplifications were made to both the finales of each act when the opera was made available in printed form... simplifications that would make it easier to perform. Rossini scholar Philip Gossett offered to make the new critical edition of the score based on the composer's autograph available to the MET... However, the MET decided to use the traditional score. So an opportunity was lost, but still as performed the opera comes across as a rare jewel... So, in spite of this unfortunate fact this production is still highly recommended.

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Addendum April 9, 2012: I recently had the opportunity to compare the DVD with an audio only recording of the original MET Radio/HD broadcast from 2011. It seems that for the DVD Flòrez opening solo "Que les destins prospères" was taken from another performance where he performed some different and higher-lying embellishments. While it is possible that other edits were incorporated for this commercial release, none were overtly obvious. As an example, I recall that Damrau performed some different and more stratospheric embellishments at the performance I attended in the house, but her performance as represented on the DVD seems totally consistent with that of the original broadcast. Of course, those who attend the MET know that cameras are often present at a variety of performances of operas that are scheduled for HD broadcast. At any rate, this is not surprising, and is simply an interesting observation.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Looking DVD, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
I preordered this dvd and got it today...............watching it was a real treat. This probably is the best looking standard dvd of a Met in HD telecast I have seen..............the video quality far surpasses the recent dvds of Turandot, Carmen, Don Pasquale, Armida, Lucia, The Sleepwalker, and Aida. The color balance, contrast, definition and sharpness are very impressive for a standard dvd. So many Met videos look washed out as though a brown filter was put on the camera lens.................not this one...........this is truly impressive.

Equally impressive is the dts 5.1 sound track...................it is so clear and well balanced.............the bass is very well defined and pronounced as it should be when playing and reproducing Rossini's music. Great job by the sound engineers on this disc.

The staging was OK, but not nearly as fluid as the 2005 Glyndebourne dvd of this opera.............the small stage on a stage cramped it........that was really evident in the banquet scene which I thought looked very clunky.

All that aside, this may be the best bel canto singing I have heard in a long time.......all three leads were simply magnificent..they sang well and acted with great comic energy. They did this Rossini masterpiece proud.

The interviews conducted by hostess Rene Flemming were interesting to me as always. Most interesting was a question to Joyce DiDonato about the relative difficulty of singing coloratura in Rossini vs Handel...she said Handel was harder........I never would have guessed that.

This a great opera sung by bel canto singers of the highest level.......highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rossini's heaven!, April 13, 2012
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This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
I would give this DVD 10 stars out of 5 if I could - 5 for singing and 5 for acting/staging. And while all the reviewers seem to be unanimous about the amazing quality of singing not only from three principals (we're so lucky to live in their absolute prime!), but even from supportive cast, I'll try to explain why I liked the production very much too.
First thing Bartlett Sher did right, in my opinion, he limited Met's vast stage by using this old theater set and made the whole space intimate and close to the audience. It also improved the quality of sound tremendously. Secondly, I think this `play within play' concept emphasizes the `French quality' of the whole piece, where no character at any point says (sings really) what he/she thinks. Everybody pretends all the time in Le Comte Ory, and by using and showing to the audience old theater mechanics Bartlett Sher winks at us, saying:' It's all for fun, we're just playing!' There is no conflict of virtue and sin in this piece. Just Rossini's wit, light touch and gorgeous music. Peasant girls pretend they believe the holiness of the hermit (do you really think he invited them to his sham to pray? And this `prayer' brought them all such joy and satisfaction?). Adele and her ladies in waiting are not really shocked to discover the hermit's true identity. And the countess is not a bit terrified to recognize Ory in `Sor Collette' and his bearded knights in a bunch of `nuns'. She is very well equipped and self-confident to participate in his little game and have a lot of fun along the way. Just as Le Comte himself found out very quick that he is in bed with not only Adele, but also Isolier, and didn't mind and played along with pleasure. All this is done here lightly and in good taste, with enormous love and respect for Rossini's genius. At no point Sher compromised performers' comfort by putting them in awkward for singing position, everybody seems to be at ease and having tremendous fun. Goes without saying that Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato are amazing singing actors and gorgeous people, and final trio is pure heaven not only for ears, but for eyes too.
I absolutely have to mention charming costumes done by Catherine Zuber. They are pleasure to look at, so colorful, tasteful and inventive, a true miracle nowadays.
So, buy this DVD today, it will put a smile on your face for years to come.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bitingly humorous and gorgeously produced and performed., March 23, 2012
This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
I could not wait for the release of this great performance and wonderful production.
It is a play within a play, but nothing distracts.
The title role is performed by Florez and he is in absolute top form here - the moment he opens his mouth, the audience's entire soul and body is taken in, without any trace left.
The same goes for Damrau's Adele,too. Not a word of nonsense, not one unnecessary gesture, not a single phrase wasted - this Adele is so real in flesh and blood that she might as well be the woman next to you.
Damrau has her own interpretation of this role - Adele is not a medieval simpleton like in many other productions. She is a noble young woman, intelligent and self-willed, with a normal degree of sophistication. This new dimension lends much weight to the credibility and depth of the entire opera.
Of course, one may not wish for a trouser role for the splendid Joyce Didonato. Be that as it may, she sung and acted the trouser role of Isolier with charisma, and this guy is certainly no ordinary page. One would only wish for a slightly better stage makeup for her to make her role perfect!
The sets are great, and the costumes truly fabulous.
The production is satirically funny, and highly enjoyable from beginning right to the end.
Don't miss this!
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful music not enough to make up for a ridiculous production, March 17, 2012
This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
John Gleason and MattB are right on in their comments about the singing in this production. But, as far as I am concerned, they completely miss the boat about the production. The professional music critics seem at agree with me.
Out West Arts: "This was Sher's third production for the Met and it felt familiar in a bad way."
New Yorker Magazine: "Busy, Distracting, and oversexed." Bartlett Sher seems to think that the more busyness on the stage, the better the production, even if the busyness has nothing to do with the story. This worked for him in his Tony-winning 'South Pacific,' largely because that was set on a Navy base where a lot of unnecessary action was not out of place. But, in his 'Les Contes d'Hoffmann,' his busyness detracted from an already mediocre production. Here, there is an almost continual distraction from the play. Drama is not drama, unless it is part of the story.
New York Post: "This tired retread of a 'play within a play' concept, which was cliched fifty years ago." Add to this, it was an 'amateur play within a play.' I have not seen such overacting in local community theater productions. Much of it bordered on the 'mellerdrammer.'
New York Post: "Even Zimmerman's notorious boo-magnet, 'La Sonnambula,' wasn't as rank as this disount 'Ory.'" I have to admit, I do not agree with this. Nothing else is as bad as Zimmerman's 'Sonnambula'--but this comes close.
Even Opera News, the official publication of the Metropolitan Opera Guild: "Fell far short of realizing the potential of this singular work of art ... Action was indifferently staged ... and stuffed with extraneous business." What do fluttering birds on poles, trees moving all over the stage, and an old man wandering in and out have to do with 'Le Comte Ory?
I could fully recommend a cd of this production, but not the dvd.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, gorgeous and vivid., April 23, 2012
This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
It is very hard to stage a work that targets at the medieval age in the 21st century.
MET succeeds here admirably.
While the sets and costumes retained the medieval flavour, the acting and direction make this performance vivid and alive for 21st century viewers. This alone deserves 5 stars, but the musical cast deserves equal, if not more, credit.
This is a reprisal of Ory by Juan Diego Florez, who has made an early recording in the Pesaro Rossini Festival more than a decade ago.
Florez is even better as Comte Ory here. He sings and acts as if he owns the role entirely, and makes this otherwise clownish role totally alive and believable. His brilliant Rossinian tenor is never deployed to better advantage than as in this performance.
As the lead lady Comtesse Adele, Diana Damrau makes it clear that right now, she is 'the' coloratura leggiero soprano of choice. Looking surprisingly like a young Meryl Streep, she acts and sings with total conviction and utmost confidence. Her portrayal of a hypocritical young aristocrat is so vivid that she outshines all predecessors of this role on DVD.
Joyce Didonato suffers from singing a more secondary role, but her contribution is immense, as she creates a golden triangle with Florez and Damrau in the last Act.
It would have been perfect if Ludovic Tezier is assigned to the baritone role, as he was in the earlier Glyndebourne production.
This performance is Rossinian opera presented in the best way possible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uniquely Rossinian, April 5, 2012
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This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
Le Comte Ory was Gioachino Rossini penultimate opera to a libretto taken from a vaudeville act by E. Scribe & C. Delestre-Poirson about a real life Don Juan, the hero of an 18th century ballad. In 1825 Rossini had written a delightful occasion piece for the coronation of Charles X of France, who only lasted a few years. The piece "Il Viaggio a Reims" would not become an opera house repertory because of it's political association. "Comte Ory" provided an opportunity to recycle some of the former material. Much of act one and some of act two are from the previous opera. Of course Rossini had been for many years the greatest proponent of Italian Opera Buffa but Comte Ory was quite different and more in the French style. It certanly is not an Opera' Comique in the vein of Herold, Halevy or especially Auber. It is something wry, urbane and witty and uniquely Rossinian. For many years I have enjoyed many times the Glyndebourne 1997 production conducted by Andrew Davis and directed by Jerome Savary. Unfortunately the singers here were not of the calibur of the Met production. I was overjoyed when I learned that the Met was going to produce it. Well I was charmed out of my seat. The voices, yes real Bel Canto voices singing at top artistry. Not only Florez, Damrau & DiDinato (more later) but the Raimbaud of Stephane Degout, the Alice of Monica Yunis and the Ragonde of Susanne Resmark got to show their stuff in those famous Rossini wonderful whirling concerted pieces for several voices and instruments. As one contemporary critic (Chorley) put it " there is not a bad melody, there is not an ugly bar in Comte Orly". The only way this music can be really enjoyed is if the voices are really capable of Bel Canto singing and the three stars we have here certainly are able to do it. I do agree with the reviewer who said that Damrau won by a nose. I've not been a great fan in the past but her Adele is an unforgetable chracterization and that voice pure cream all the way up the scale. Wow! The orchestra was superb under Maurizio Benini, the costumes of Catherine Zuber were excellent but I found the sets and production of Sher to be overdone. Too much directorial stuff going on, lots of cutesy things -butterflies and birds- the prompter should go although I did like the storm machines. A little goes a long was - this production had too much. I think Savary's Glyndebourne production much the better, but they didn't have Damrau's Adele.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece Recylced, June 5, 2012
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DDD (Pasadena, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (DVD)
Rossini's Le Comte Ory, his penultimate opera, is made up in large part of music that he wrote for Il Viaggio a Reims, a work honorinig the coronation of Charles X. Since the plot, if it can be called that, was one that he assumed would never see the light of day and since composers have been borrowing from themslves for centuries, it would have been a greater "crime" to not reuse music that would otherwise go unheard. Le Comte Ory has certainly not had a performiing history. Glyndebourne was responsible for its first recording as well as its first filming. The Rossini festival in Pesaro provided the first commercial recording if Il Viaggio, a recording that is extraordinary considering the vocal talents displayed. The conductor Abbado is also responsible for the second recording, one he made when he was the director of the Berlin Philharmonic; it is good but vocally it not quite as lustrouws as the first taping. It is interesting to compare the two operas and see how Rossini adapted his "Italian" music to the French language. Le Conte Ory is not "opera buffa", but "opera bouffe". There is a difference,

I have not seen Barlet Sher's work prior to auditing this DVD. I had the opportunity to see Les Contes d'Hoffman. I passed it up when I found out it was the old corrupt Choudens version. To not explore what musicologists have discovered in the last twenty five years is doubtless not cost effective but does suggest laziness on the part of management. His Il Barbiere is still awaiting a release. Sher has staged Ory as an opera within an opera. Hardly a novel approach and one that really isn't necessary. A number of negative comments have already been recorded by auditors who seemingly had very strong reactions. I don't share them since they in no way make enjoying the DVD an arduous and unpleasant task. I would have preferred that Sher not have resorted to this cliche, but one could also argue that this opera is not served by being mounted in a house that seats around four thousand. Obviously the venue at Glyndebourne is ideal and the current seating of around a thousand is ideal as well. For the most part the camera stays very close to the action which is fortunate since at no time does one feel that your are lost in an immense house.

The first DVD of the opera is not without a number of virtues. The French coloratura, Annick Massis, is a superb Countess Adele. Ludovic Tezier is a wonderful French baritone who is currently gettiing the exposure he deserves. Diane Montague as Isolier does not have the charisma of DiDonato--nor the technique as well-- but she is a worthy artist and considering the limitations of the role (Rossini didn't even provide the character with an aria) the Met's casting is deluxe. Where the first taping fails is in the casting of Marc Laho as Ory. A native of Belgium, his Francophone virtues are evident; however he is miles away from the ability to sing the music when agility is required. Clearly Florez is the winner in that department, but he is also very much at home with the Rossini style even when transferred to French soil Though Damrau is not French her sensibilities are Europoean and she sails through the music as if it were a walk ini the park, stylistically as well as musically. It is sheer delight watching Florez and Damrau interact in the second act. Considering her staggering technique DiDonato is short changed, but having an artist of this distinction makes the aquisition of this set even more compelling.

Now please, Virgin, Decca or any other company out there, please let us have a L'Italiana in Algeri to complete the Rossini comedies with Florez and DiDonato.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorably impressed by this Rossini, December 13, 2012
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Rather different from what I would have expected from a Rossini opera. A lot of fun, well sung and well presented. Another opera I first watched via Met HD theatrical telecast.
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Rossini: Le Comte Ory
Rossini: Le Comte Ory by Maurizio Benini (DVD - 2012)
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