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David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2018

La Comte Ory was Rossini’s penultimate opera before his retirement from the stage, and his rush to complete the score required that he should recycle used material. The problem that beset the opera from the outset was the fundamental fact that he had purloined the music from his Il viaggio a Reims, an opera whose substance was so entirely different. Somehow he made it work, and, as the booklet note that comes with this DVD says, ‘Rossini created something completely new—a thoroughly composed opera comedy for artists who were well known to the audience from tragic roles in the French and Italian repertoire’. It then begs the question, what will you make of Linda Mallik’s production for Malmo Opera, a staging that does its best to present it as a conventional Rossini opera buffa? Much depends as to whether you have seen it presented as the composer probably intended it. Here she drags every drop of humour from the story, at one point having the men dressed as nuns dancing a Can-Can, which would have rather surprised Rossini as it wasn’t ‘invented’ when the opera was composed. On the positive side we have a very colourful presentation that avoids dress that would have placed it in any one particular period, and is most pleasing to the eye. The whole story can be summed up in a few words, Comte Ory’s quest, in various disguises, is to seduce the beautiful Countess Adele while her husband is away on a Crusade. Rossini must have been well blessed with singers at the Paris premiere, his score requiring a virtuoso soprano for the role of Adele, and a fine high tenor for the part of Ory. This performance has both, with the Hungarian coloratura, Erika Miklosa, suitably thrilling in her highly demanding arias, and, from Uruguay, Leonardo Ferrando as a very plausible seducer. Daniela Pini looks the part of the young page, Isolier, and I was much taken by Jonas Samuelsson in the dual role as the Farmer/Peasant. Keeping the tempos suitably sprightly is the conductor, Tobias Ringborg, with the very fine Malmo Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The filming, taken from two evenings, is very good both in sound and vivid colours, my review coming from a standard DVD, but it is also available in Blu-ray on NBD 0062V. © 2018 David’s Review Corner

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