Set in rural France at the time of the Crusades, Le Comte Ory, Rossini' last comic opera, is based on the story of a real-life villainous Count who attempts the seduction of a Countess as she awaits the return of her brother. The o
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Not the First Choice for This Delightful Comic OperaJune 29 2007
J Scott Morrison
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There are two other easily available sets containing Rossini's delightful last comic opera, Le Comte Ory, those conducted by John Eliot Gardiner Le Comte Ory and by Jésus López-Cobos Rossini: Le Comte Ory. Of those the better is the Gardiner. The present set comes from a live recording from performances at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival (Germany) made in 2002. It features the Czech Chamber Solists orchestra from Brno and the Czech Philharmonic Choir (which is excellent) under the direction of Australian conductor Brad Cohen. The soloists are all essentially unknowns. This is not a bad performance, and although there are some weakness in the cast -- foremost of which is the wobbly mezzo of Gloria Montanari as Ragonde; slightly less so is the tenorino of the young Welsh singer Huw Rhys-Evans who must be compared unfavorably to the dynamic and suave Juan Diego Florez in López-Cobos's recording -- there are also some remarkably able singers. Linda Gerrard as the Countess has a silvery soperano and her deft vocal acting is perfect at conveying that character's naïveté. Even better is mezzo Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade as Isolier, the Count's lovesick page. The latter is not a new singer for me; she was memorable in the recording, also from Wildbad, of Rossini's Maometto II Rossini: Maometto II (1822 Venice version).
Comte Ory is, of course, very similar musically to Rossini's Il viaggio à Reims. He took five of that opera's nine sections and set them to new lyrics for Comte Ory, as well as composing some new music for the score. The reason for this reuse of old music is that Il viaggio was a pièce d'occasion (for the coronation of France's Charles X) and Rossini didn't expect it ever to be revived after its initial performances. I have treasured for years the recording conducted by Claudio Abbado and have always felt that Il viaggio's 'Gran pezzo concertate', its first act finale, is one of Rossini's most glorious creations. He uses it virtually intact for Ory's first act finale and it is done magnificently here.
All that said, though, this performance does not come up to that by Gardiner and his forces (or to López-Cobos's either). The Gardiner set (from 1989) costs only slightly more than this set and I'd urge you to go for that one unless you have particular interest in the doings of the Rossini in Wildbad Festival's productions.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Rossini sparkle snuffedJuly 1 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Le Comte Ory, a rehashing of Il viaggo a Reims with some added numbers, a not uncommon practice of Rossini and his contemporaries, is a surpisingly delightful piece. It is full of verve, and actually very funny. There are few operas which make you laugh out loud ! A cohort of lascivious men, totally sloshed, and dressed as nuns - you get the picture ! Pretty daring stuff back in 1828.
This opera requires a lively tempo, with fine actor/singers, with clear (French) diction, .... timing is everything in comedy. This new offering from Naxos, usually first-rate in providing low-priced opera recordings, fails here in every way. (Their recording of Rossini's, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, under Will Humburg's baton is unsurpassed.) Here, everything went terribly wrong. Brad Cohen and his Czech orchestra, the singers (Rhys-Evans, Salsi, Gerrard, etc). No redeeming aspects at all. A waste of money, and a totally unexpected, disappointing, product from this otherwise superb label.
The best recording of Le Comte Ory remains the Glyndebourne Festival production under Vittorio Gui, dating back to 1957 !
A charming visual interpretation is provided by Kultur Video's DVD of the 1997 Glyndbourne Festival production directed by Jerome Savary, released in 2005, with Massis, Laho, Montague, Tezier, Woodman, et al. Loads of fun, with spirited acting and singing, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Davis' baton.