ROSSINI: Le Comte Ory (complete opera) (2014)

Conductor: Muhai Tang
Cast: Oliver Widmer (Raimbaud)/ Teresa Sedlmair (Alice)/ Liliana Nikiteanu (Ragonde)/ Javier Camarena (Le Comte Ory)/ Ugo Guagliardo (Le Gouverneur)/ Rebeca Olvera (Isolier)/ Cecilia Bartoli (La Comtesse Adele)/ Jan Rusko, Patrick Vogel (Courtiers) 
Performers: Orchestra La Scintilla and Supplementary Chorus of the Zurich Orch.
Producer: Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier
Studio: Decca 074 3467 [4/29/14]
Video: 16:9 Color
Audio: DTS 5.1, PCM 2.0
Subtitles: German, English, French, Korean
Length: 142 minutes
Rating: ****

If you want a truly definitive and brilliant production of this marvelous work, look no further that the Metropolitan Opera production I reviewed, also for a summary of the plot.

This release created in Zurich where Cecilia Bartoli and her husband Oliver Widmer happen to live, is not as good—the Met cast and performances are simply stellar and not likely to be equaled anytime soon. But one cannot dismiss Bartoli in anything she does, still the most technically proficient singer in the world, and her co-star Javier Camarena gives us not only a fluent and gorgeously-sung Ory but also a droll and highly-developed sense of comedy.

It’s a modern-day setting that works just fine in this context, and is based on a new critical edition of the score, which must have been an interesting exercise since so much of it came from Il viaggio a Reims, a very successful venture in Paris though Rossini knew that because of its ties to a historical event it would not be easily transferrable to other venues. Only one number in the first act is new for this opera; with act II this is not the case. But the work uses as large an orchestra as he ever employed, and the vocal lines are far more integrated and highly-developed than in the typical opera-comique of the time.

Like I said, the performance is very good on all levels, excellent visuals and sound, just not quite up to snuff comparatively speaking. But I am so taken with the performances of the principals that I would hate to be without this, even though when I really want to get to the meat of this wonderful piece, I’ll be pulling the Met off my shelf.

Steven Ritter