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Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, July 2012

True genius—in a conductor, a singer, a pianist, an actor, or a composer—is not only a rare thing but difficult to explain…

I bring this up not because I have watched Nina, and its companion piece Paisiello: A Forgotten Genius, and been won over by the brilliance of the composer, but because I have listened to and watched Adám Fischer, Cecilia Bartoli, Jonas Kaufmann, and Lászlo Polgár perform Nina, and these are artists of real genius.

Were you just listening to this performance, you would…be impressed by Fischer’s conducting and by the singing of the trio of Bartoli, Kaufmann, and Polgar…

Nina is mad from her first entrance, but unlike such loose screws of the opera world…Nina is aware of her madness to a certain extent. She can’t control it, but she knows why she is mad, and at times understands that she is not normal, and those moments are touching because they seem real. In performing this complex madwoman, Bartoli uses all her powers of stage illusion to create a character that is both believably insane and believably likeable. It is not an easy road she has taken, particularly in a work that, with the wrong cast or director, could easily be reduced to mundane tedium, but she succeeds. Her first-act aria, “Il mio ben quando verrà,” is really a fine piece of music, but Bartoli makes it more effective by the way she handles and inhabits the role. Her shading and coloring of her voice makes the words mean something. Even the pauses are dramatic. A fine aria thus becomes a great one, supported in turn by a conductor who understands what she and the director are driving at. That is what I mean by genius.

Jonas Kaufmann has, since this production, risen as a major operatic star, and again it is his combination of singing and acting that makes him so great.

This is the performance to acquire, and yes, you want it on video. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Charles T. Downey
The Classical Review, February 2012

PAISIELLO: Nina (Zurich Opera, 2002) (PAL) 100366
PAISIELLO: Nina (Zurich Opera, 2002) (NTSC) 100367

The title role was created for a soprano, so the top sits a little uncomfortably in Bartoli’s voice. Neither opera seria nor opera buffa, the score has lots of cantabile melancholy arias and not as much of the crazy coloratura more to Bartoli’s liking. Still, she gives a very moving portrayal and sings with lyrical abandon.

Kaufmann shows here why his star rose so quickly at the turn of the century, singing with both bravura strength and finesse, as well as a handsome stage appearance. In the role of the Count, the paternal bass of László Polgár provides a dignified, stentorian presence, while Juliette Galstian is not quite able to handle the highest parts of the role of Susanna.

Character baritone Angelo Veccia has a witty turn as the comic servant Giorgio, both in the funny wheezing aria…and the drunken aria in Act I, reassuring Nina’s father that she will recover. Conductor Ádám Fischer has a sure hand with the band of the Zurich Opera, using some period instruments (such as the on-stage oboe and bagpipe). © 2012 The Classical Review Read complete review

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