Rossini's Le Comte Ory

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Juan Diego Flórez as Rossini's <em>Le Compte Ory</em> Juan Diego Flórez as Rossini's Le Compte Ory (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

Subterfuge, innuendo and a good deal of bawdy fun usher Le Comte Ory onto the Met stage for the first time ever in a production by Bartlett Sher. The opera stars tenor Juan Diego Flórez as the oft-disguised Ory, soprano Diana Damrau as countess Adèle, and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as Isolier, Ory’s page.

The action hinges on the sometimes menacing, often antic-prone amorous tension between the three, as the Count finds himself left alone in a town full of women abandoned by their Crusade-fighting men. New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini described the final scene between the three stars as a “vocally haunting, physically uninhibited performance.”

Sher chose to stage Le Comte Ory as an opera within an opera, not a theme found within Rossini’s original score but not far-fetched, as the opera was actually forged from two different works: Rossini’s earlier Il Viaggio a Reims (1825), and a short play by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson.

Le Comte Ory had its premiere at the Paris Opera on August 20, 1828. The opera has largely been excluded from America’s opera repertory, but has had flashes of success elsewhere, including a popular revival at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1954 and again at the German State Opera in 1957.

Gioachino Antonio Rossini began writing opera when he was only 14 years old and by his early twenties was firing off several completed opera scores each year. La Pietra del Paragone, considered his first substantial success, had its premiere at La Scala in 1812 and was staged an astonishing 50 times in its first season. In 1822, Rossini traveled to Vienna and later Paris, where Charles X feted the by-then widely celebrated composer, giving him a 10-year contract coupled with promise of a generous pension for life.

Rossini wrote William Tell under that contract, the only opera he would finish before Charles X was forced to abdicate in 1830. Although only 37 years old, Rossini would not write another opera in his life. The composer turned instead to sacred music, songs, instrumental pieces and piano works. Yet at the height of his opera powers, Rossini completed an average of two complete scores per year for 19 years, finishing a total of 38 operas in his life.

While Rossini has been derided for churning out opera that sometimes reveals recycled work and themes, he is credited with revolutionizing the very way opera was written. Rossini specified ornaments and cadenzas, rather than allowing singers to improvise. His use of strings to accompany recitatives was considered a pioneering step away from the traditional piano or harpsichord. And he introduced what came to be known as the Rossini crescendo, a short, repeated phrase that remains unchanged but for its increase in volume.

Cast and credits:

Conductor: Maurizio Benini

Countess Adèle: Diana Damrau

Isolier: Joyce DiDonato

Ragonde: Susanne Resmark

Count Ory: Juan Diego Flórez

Raimbaud: Stéphane Degout

The Tutor: Michele Pertusi

Production: Bartlett Sher

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Comments [7]

luna

like so much The actuation ofAnna Bolenna...amazing

Feb. 04 2012 03:51 PM
patty soriano

This concerte was wonderfull... I would like to listen again soon...thank u...bye!

Apr. 13 2011 08:15 AM
mrs.newman

I didn't expect much from this going in (I've only been actively listening for 30 year and have heard my share of "new" works die on the vine (alright, I found myself "coming around" to 'Moses und Aron' on last hearing) but as a rule, I'm a staunch traditionalist in opera (though a social liberal in real life).

This radio performance gave me pause more than once. I heard a lot of "Barbiere" (who doesn't love it...?) Understanding Rossini was very good at "plagiarizing" himself, I can't help but think there is more to 'Le Comte." It was so appealing and made one LISTEN.

Now, what are the odds this will be presented again with a cast which can do similar justice to it as the one we heard today?

Apr. 09 2011 08:21 PM
larry eisenberg from new york city

A Rossini opera oft' sought,
Bel canto beautifully wrought,
Di Donato as ever
Juan Diego forever,
It's with exquisite music fraught.

Apr. 09 2011 03:06 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from BOONTON, NJ

ONLY A JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ could be so relaxed while performing the numerous high Cs with such finesse and style. His wife just today, or was it yesterday, gave birth to a Juan Diego, Jr. No wonder he was today in such high spirits. His comedic talent is also remarkable. His colleagues JOYCE Di Donato and Diana DAmrau are similarly most appropriately cast in likewise, but not as difficult, roles. Thanks to the MET for this marvelous Rossini opera.

It helps one to comprehend the talent necessary to perform Rossini if one has had a career singing opera.

Apr. 09 2011 03:03 PM
Howard L. Levin from Jersey City. NJ

I feel that Ms. Magid from Staten Island is right in her evaluation of Rossini's talent and the cause of his popularity. But in order to enjoy these operas we need singing actors of the quality of today's cast. I am so impressed with each of them that I will probably purchase a DVD of this opera featuring them. They are singing and acting so well that they make us feel they are having fun with their roles

Apr. 09 2011 02:08 PM
Esther Magid from Staten Island

I believe what also keeps Rossinicurrent and popular among many musicians from that era is his sense of humor, his exposure of a person's frailties,liabilities, and weaknesses without being judgmental. He also links people of various professions and backgrounds and reveals their fallibilities and strengths. The music lends itself to the legerity of the subject matter.

Apr. 09 2011 09:07 AM

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