10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"Din-din, bum-bum, cra-cra..." bling-bling!,
This review is from: Rossini - L'Italiana in Algeri (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. I was so pleased that she sang Isabella's cavatina "Per lui chi adoro," with the cello obbligato. She doesn't just sing over the accompaniment, which she could easily do with her imposing voice. No, Ms. Horne's Isabella somehow makes love with the cello. I don't know how else to explain that beautiful sound.
The other singers were quite in spirit with this production, although I found Douglas Ahlstedt's tenor a bit dry. Allan Monk gave a finely-tuned performance in the very thankless role of Isabella's elderly suitor.
If you can only afford one DVD of Rossini's great comic opera, it has to be this one.
Some of this DVD's extras:
Interview with Marilyn Horne on Rossini
Ms. Horne sings:
"Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" from "Samson & Deliliah"
Samira's scene from "The Ghosts of Versailles"