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Rossini - L'Italiana in Algeri

26 customer reviews

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Rossini - L'Italiana in Algeri + Rossini - La Cenerentola / Frederica von Stade, Francisco Araiza, Paolo Montarsolo, Claudio Desderi, Laura Zannini, Claudio Abbado
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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Horne, Pablo Montarsolo, Douglas Ahistedt, and Allan Monk star in this Metropolitan Opera production of the Rossini opera conducted by James Levine.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Marilyn Horne, Paolo Montarsolo, Allan Monk, Douglas Ahlstedt, James Levine
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, NTSC, DTS Surround Sound, Dolby, Subtitled
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 157 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JJSRN4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,923 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Rossini - L'Italiana in Algeri" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Toni Bernhard on April 21, 2007
Format: DVD
In his book "A Night at the Opera," Denis Forman, after praising L'Italiana in Algeri, writes: "But beware, it needs an alpha production, and if the fizz and sparkle are missing, it can go flat and you will wonder what the heck I am going on about." "Flat" describes my reaction to L'Italiana until I watched this DVD. This production has that fizz and sparkle that Forman is referring to. It is present throughout - from Levine and orchestra to the excellent performances from all the players. This is Rossini as it's meant to be performed. Even if, like me, Rossini isn't one of your favorite opera composers, I doubt you'll be able to resist this production. And surprisingly, the picture and sound quality are excellent despite it having been filmed in 1986.

Special mention must be made of Marilyn Horne as Isabella. She just inhabits the role and her singing is extraordinary. Her mezzo voice is rich, creamy, and smooth; and when she hits those higher notes, the coloratura flowing out from her with such incredible ease, it's just spellbinding to listen to. In addition, the comic moments are made all that more effective by her crisp enunciation (which she's able to maintain no matter how fast the music is going). Strength, beauty, precision, ease. Horne's voice has it all.

The production is full of subtle comedic moments. One of the best occurs in the first act finale when Elvira, played by Myra Merritt, suddenly steps downstage, and lets her soprano voice soar, dominating the ensemble behind her. Horne, good-natured enough to make fun of her star status, turns and gives Merritt a priceless look that communicates that she's overstepping her rank in the cast. But Merritt ignores the look and lets her voice soar again.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Espinosa Ihnen on June 30, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Underrated masterpiece" is a frequently remark about "La Italiana". And I certainly agree. Generally considered inferior to "Il Barbiere de Siviglia" and "La Cenerentola", this early opera buffa contains some of the most charming Rossini music you can imagine, full of beautiful arias and brilliant ensembles. It reminds me Mozart more than the later.

In this 1987 Met recording, Jean Pierre Ponnelle's production shows colourful yet sober, and you can relax on his good taste to resolve every detail, from sets to costumes. No "modern" crap here: Mustafa's palace is Moorish, and we can see moor pirates, nice moor veiled girls from the "seraglio" and funny looking moor eunuchs, who sing at the very start the haunting chorus "Serenate il mesto ciglio", while they are making their usual embroidery.

Horne's voice may not suit everyone ears, partly due to her aggressive low tessitura and resounding chest notes, but she's always musical and accurate, and that's especially important when singing Rossini. Near her 50's in this DVD, she has some (little) trouble with very high notes, but she excels in every other issue, bravura passages included. Add her natural sympathy and easiness on the stage and you get a terrific Isabella. In my opinion, her arriving on Act I and next "Cruda sorte" delivering is just what defines a great opera artist.

Paolo Montarsolo is a full featured basso buffo, and if he can't sing 100% the fioritura Rossini wrote for the role, he compensates the fact by large with a splendid performance, considering both singing and performing. Though he was past his 60 in this recording, he's an agile Mustafa, looking a lot much younger.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 30, 2007
Format: DVD
Rossini was only twenty-one years old when he composed "L'Italiana in Algeri," and this production captures all of his youthful exuberance. Marilyn Horne is a brilliant Isabella (a role she first sang in 1964), who livens up the ensembles with her own comic touches (`al dente!'). The only "L'Italiana" I like better is her 1984 Venetian performance, where she partners with Samuel Ramey as her Mustafa. A match made in coloratura heaven!

In this 1986 Metropolitan Opera version, Paolo Montarsolo is the overbearing Bey of Algiers. He sings it as a buffo role, and tends to mug and gesticulate his way through his solos (it's actually a rather difficult coloratura part if sung correctly). However, this bass comes through in the ensembles, most especially in the septet that fires off at the end of Act I. Jimmy Levine leads the orchestra, chorus, and principals in a scintillating, clockwork finale ("Din-din, bum-bum, cra-cra, tac-tac!") where Rossini takes us right to the edge of musical chaos. Fortunately, the conductor keeps his musicians in laser focus. If you were bouncing up and down in time with Jimmy throughout the lively overture, take a moment after this first act finale to pay homage to this remarkable musician.

According to Ms. Horne, in her autobiography, "The Song Continues," "...the reviews [for this production] weren't totally laudatory: for my singing, yes; for my acting, no. The `Times' said the production was `vulgar.'"

I think the `Times' was way too harsh. This Italian girl has lots of sass, bling and zip. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's costumes and sets are gorgeous (if a bit well-travelled). Ms. Horne sings of love, patriotism, and the way to manage men, at the peak of her glorious form.
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Rossini - L'Italiana in Algeri
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