Italia

Semiserious Rossini: Torvaldo e Dorliska

Claudio Vellutini
martes, 5 de septiembre de 2017
Pesaro, sábado, 12 de agosto de 2017. Adriatic Arena. Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Mario Martone, director. Sergio Tramonti, set designer. Ursula Patzak, costume designer. Cesare Accetta, light designer. Nicola Alaimo, Duca d’Ordow. Salome Jicia, Dorliska. Dmitry Korchak, Torvaldo. Carlo Lepore, Giorgio. Raffaella Lupinacci, Carlotta. Filippo Fontana, Ormondo. Coro del Teatro della Fortuna M. Agostini. Orchestra Sinfonica G. Rossini. Mirca Rosciani, chorus master. Francesco Lanzillotta, conductor
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Festivals dedicated to a single composer is often provide an opportunity to contextualize well-known masterpieces by reviving rarely performed works. The Rossini Opera Festival has done wonders in this respect: not only has it prompted opera lovers to assess long-forgotten scores, but in several cases it has shed light on undeservedly overlooked gems. While I am not ready to list Torvaldo e Dorliska in the latter category, this opera certainly deserves more critical consideration than it has thus far received. The third title of the 2017 Rossini Opera Festival, Torvaldo e Dorliska belongs to a genre that does not fit comfortably with contemporary taste, but was very popular at the turn of the nineteenth century: that of semiserious opera. Capitalizing as they did on the vogue for French mélodrame and combining adventurous plots, coups de théâtre, suspense, sensational effects, and happy ending, the plots of semiserious operas consisted of variations on the theme of virtue unjustly persecuted and ultimately rewarded. Torvaldo e Dorliska is no exception. Dorliska, a young maid recently married to Torvaldo, has attracted the attention of the powerful Duke of Ordow. The Duke has planned to ambush the newly wedded couple in order to kill his rival, and kidnap Dorliska. While he believes to have achieved the first goal, Dorliska has escaped him and has been rescued by the Duke’s own gate keeper Giorgio and his sister Carlotta. Only too late does Dorliska discover that she is in the hands of her wicked pursuer. Meanwhile Torvaldo, who has survived the attack, also reaches the castle disguised as a shepherd, but he is recognized and imprisoned. The Duke tries to convince Dorliska to yield to his desires in exchange for her husband’s life, but his plans are ultimately jeopardized by a revolt of his subjects, exhausted by his vexations and tyranny.At his second essay in the genre (following the delightful, yet much shorter L’inganno felice), Rossini took the opportunity to exploit this plot to showcase his versatility in providing musical expression to a wide range of situations, emotions, and characters, and set the ground for his later essays in the semiserious genres, Matilde di Shabran and La gazza ladra.

Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Mario Martone, director. Mario Martone, director. 2017 Rossini Opera Festival. Pesaro, Adriatic Arena, August 2017Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Mario Martone, director. Mario Martone, director. 2017 Rossini Opera Festival. Pesaro, Adriatic Arena, August 2017 © Rossini Opera Festival, 2017

This year the Rossini Opera Festival proposed Torvaldo e Dorliska in Mario Martone’s traditional, well-oiled, and captivating production, originally presented in 2006. Martone does not try to impose interpretive layers on the opera’s plot; rather his presentation is made accessible and clear through an imaginative use of the scenic space, which embraces not only the small stage of the Teatro Rossini but also extends to the entire stalls area as well as the first tier of boxes. Martone’s experience as a film director particularly payed off, as the accurate acting of all the performers on stage helped define the characters and the different dramatic situations.

Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Mario Martone, director. Mario Martone, director. 2017 Rossini Opera Festival. Pesaro, Adriatic Arena, August 2017Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Mario Martone, director. Mario Martone, director. 2017 Rossini Opera Festival. Pesaro, Adriatic Arena, August 2017 © Rossini Opera Festival, 2017

The production was well served by a cast dominated by the two basses. Nicola Alaimo brought forth a compelling rendition of the opera’s vilain, the Duke of Ordow. His towering and intimidating stage presence was matched by his vocal authority. Alaimo sang his part with vigorous power and assurance, remarkable flexibility, and an impressive range of expressive nuances -from sardonic irony to indomitable violence. Carlo Lepore, a veteran of the Rossini Opera Festival, rendered Giorgio’s comic nature with consummate ability, rich timbre, and brilliant execution of the many tongue-twisting passages of the role. A recent alumna of the Accademia Rossiniana, Salome Jicia (Dorliska) showed an intriguing voice -resonant, dark, impetuous, yet agile. There is something of a mezzo in her somber timbre, which, in conjuction with her incisive diction and insightful phrasing, would make her an excellent interpreter of Colbran roles (her first major undertaking at the Rossini Opera Festival was Elena in La donna del lago last season, next to Juan Diego Florez and Michael Spyres.) It is unfortunate, however, that such a remarkable instrument is at times pushed beyond its limits: Jicia seems to indulge in extravagant ornamentations that expose a shrill top register and jeopardize the overall organization of what appears an all too rare voice. For Dmitry Korchak (Torvaldo), the beginning of the opening night was somewhat underwhelming: his voice sounded stiff, his attempts at producing soft sounds constrained, and his phrasing mechanical. Fortunately, as the opera went on, his performance grew in confidence. By the second act, Korchak engaged the audience in a captivating rendition of Torvaldo’s act-2 aria. Raffaella Lupinacci put herself in the best possible light in the relatively small role of Carlotta: hopefully we will hear more of her in the near future. Filippo Fontana was equally excellent as Ormondo and turned his so-called “pear tree aria” into an utter delight.

Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Mario Martone, director. Mario Martone, director. 2017 Rossini Opera Festival. Pesaro, Adriatic Arena, August 2017Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Gioachino Rossini, Torvaldo e Dorliska. Mario Martone, director. Mario Martone, director. 2017 Rossini Opera Festival. Pesaro, Adriatic Arena, August 2017 © Rossini Opera Festival, 2017

After attending two Rossini productions under the aegis of the RAI national symphony orchestra, listening to the local Orchestra Sinfonica Rossini was disappointing. Among the merits of the conductor, Francesco Lanzillotta, was to make the best of a rather undistinguished ensemble. Lanzillotta also offered the singers the best possible conditions to shine and allowed the opera to move with an energetic dramatic pace. The chorus of Fano’s the Teatro della Fortuna, conducted by Mirca Rosciani, contributed professionally to the positive outcome of the performance.

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