L’ITALIENNE À ALGER at Palais Garnier, Paris.
L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI. – Comical drama in two acts (1813)
MUSIC by GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868), LIBRETTO: ANGELO ANELLI
In italian langue
If a classical comic opera shall be modernised, this is an excellent example of how well it can be done. The production staff leaded by the regissør Andrei Serban, has made it wonderful, amusing!!!.
It all starts in a bathing scene in a Harem in Algier, where all the wimens are waiting for Mustafa, brilliantly, and charming performed by Marco Vinco, great selfish in the beginning, but during the way he is changing his charactere from being selfish, and only interested in Italian wimen, to being a Mafioso boss type, interested in Spaghetti and Italian wine. The story is, nearly as allways, very small, and easy to understand, but when they get so much out of it as this staff is doing, then it is fantastic to just enjoy and relaxe. The wife of the the Bey Mustafa, Elvira, sung by Jaël Azzaretti, laments because her husband no longer loves her. The Bey is tired of his wife, The eunuchs in the Harem and her confident Zulma, Cornelia Oncioiu, try to concomfort her, but Mustafas arrival only confirms the young womans fears.
He orders the captain of his Corsairs, Haly, sung by Riccardo Novaro, to get rid of her by marriying her to Lindoro an Italian slave, brilliantly sung by the wonderful young tenor LAWRENCE BROWNLEE, who was the very hit of the performance. He is being free from slavery and nicely dressed up to marry Elvira, but before that we see him in his slawe work, where he is hugging a golden statue out of a stone, forming the girl, his fiancé that he think he has lost, Isabella. Unfortunately, it is not easy for Lindoro to refuse the proposal to marry Elvira, which he has no desire whatsoever to marry. – But something happens.-
A ship is wrecked nearby, and in this we do see Titanic, going down, wonderful fantasifull combination, and the audience feels at home in this game. Out from the ship is being saved some persons by the resque mens leaded by Haley, and among the survivors arrives the most beautiful dark haired women Isabella, who is in search of Lindoro, what an occurance! Isabella is sung – and performed by the wonderful young mezzosoprano Vivica Genaux.
She is accompanied by a bashful lover, Taddeo, brilliantly, parodistic and humoristic performed and sung by Alessandro Corbelli, i like his many different positions and his performing, specialy his close to Chaplin way of walking during a part of the performance. I do know that all this very talented singers are being instructe by the famouse director of the performance Andrei Serban, but they are building his instruction on their own talent, because without talent it will not succeed. Another importent detail in this combinated prodution are the choreography by Niky Wolcz, playfull, and new thinking. And to help the 40 persons choire to perform well there are 18 dancers/performers 9 men and 9 wimen, in addition to a very sweet Orangutang!!! Who all are following the choreographic ideas, and making this a good festivitas performance. All dressed up in the delicious, and very variated costumes and with scenography by Marina Draghici. The performance was splendid conducted by MAIRIZIO BENINI.
The first act ends, after a lot of difficulityes, brilliantly served, in total confucion: each character´s thoughts are characterised by “a little bell that ringsout ding ding dong”. “ahammer that goes ban bang bang” and “a cow that cries caw caw”.
It all continues. Mustafa has fallen totally for the beautiful Italian girl Isabella. He invites Isabella to take coffe with him, but sha allways manage not to being alone with him, so he cant succeed in what he want to do with her. She is even inviting his wife Elvira to go with her to meet him. She offers to bestow him the titel of “Pappataci”, and in this is one of the most funny trios in Rossinis compositions. Isabella and Lindoro takes advantage if the situation and flee onboard a ship with all theother Italian slawes, which has been freed. When Mustafa realises that he has een deceived it is allready too late. “Freed” from hisillusions concerning Italian women Mustafa returns to his wife. The singers, in turn “freed” from their roles, give the moral of the story. “A woman can make a fool of anyone when she wants to”.
My advice is. “Run to Palais Garnier and buy ticket for L´Italienne a Alger, if there are any left”. – Last performance is October 8th. 2010. This is first class comic opera, but in a renewed frame, without loosing any thing. The Rumanian born ensemble leaded by Andrei Serban, who has made it deserve the greatest honour for this festivitas! BRAVO.
About the work: Gioacchino Rossini received a last-minute commission to compose L´Italiana in Algeri in an attempt to save the 1831 season at the Theatro San Benedetto in Venice which had to got of to a very bad start. SInce the composer had only 27 days to write his new opera he used a libretto by Angeli Anelli which had already been put to music five years earlier by Luigi Mosca. Rossini modified the libretto adding some parts inclusive the famouse Pappataci trio to the second act. Onomatopoeia and nonsens which emphasise the work´s rhytmic exuberance and push the comic deformation of the words to new heights. The music thus freed from all constraints of words and sense become as Stendhal put it “organised madness”.
Of all Rossini´s opers this is certainly the most deliberately preposterous and the most improbable. And when we get it in such a splendid production it is wonderful. L´Italiana in Algeri was first performed on 22. May 1813 at the Theatro San Benedetto in Venica. . The production we see to day by Andre Serban was first performed in April 1998.
MAIRIZIO BENINI Direction musicale
ANDREI SERBAN Mise en scène
MARINA DRAGHICI Décors et costumes
GUIDO LEVI Lumières
réalisées par JACQUES GIOVANANGELI
NIKY WOLCZ Chorégraphie
ALESSANDRO DI STEFANO Chef de choeur
MARCO VINCO ° Mustafà
JAËL AZZARETTI Elvira
CORNELIA ONCIOIU Zulma
RICCARDO NOVARO ° Haly
LAWRENCE BROWNLEE ° Lindoro
VIVICA GENAUX Isabella
ALESSANDRO CORBELLI Taddeo
ORCHESTRE ET CHOEUR
DE L’OPÉRA NATIONAL DE PARIS
° Débuts à l’Opéra national de Paris