, December 2010
As an early example of French Grand Opéra, Moïse meets all the genre’s criteria, with a grand subject, history made personal with conflicts stemming from love, big ensembles and choruses, and a ballet. Rossini’s reworking of his 1818 Naples success Mosè in Egitto to suit French tastes, it sets his Italian melodic strengths in a more elaborate context as Pharaoh’s son seeks to retain Moses’ niece, whom he loves, despite plagues and even as the Israelites cross the Red Sea in a spectacular conclusion. It enjoyed ninety-seven full performances, while the third-act temple scene, including the big ballet, was often played on its own and opened the bill in 1841 when Giselle had its premiere.
Muti leads his forces with conviction in this 2004 La Scala production that has enough of the requisite grandeur and a cast that manages the score’s difficulties well enough to show the work’s strength and validity. Unfortunately, the split-level stage gives little space for Lucianna Savignano, Roberto Bolle, and Desmond Richardson to do much more than pose, twist, and occasionally leap and turn in Micha von Hoecke’s ballet. The costumes mix periods, but the whole production still gives a welcome sense of the grand style.