This sparkling all Spanish production of Rossini's perennial stage work gave me as much pleasure as much pleasure as any opera DVD I have watched in recent months. Without doubt, every detail was meticulously prepared and the end result is a wonderful evening's entertainment of the first degree.
The singers are superb, but surely the star of the show is Juan Diego Flórez who apart from his ethereal voice, is also extremely handsome and has a stage presence that arrests the viewer. No wonder Maria Bayo soon fell under his spell. Her Rosina is overflowing with a mischievous joy for life that is infectious and although Bayo is slightly too mature (age wise) for Rossini's youthful antics, her performance is fresh, convincing and at times, overtly charming.
Pietro Spagnoli's Figaro is somewhat static but as the opera progresses, he gets more involved in the plot and by the end, all of the character's machinations are revealed with clarity and conviction. The performance of Bruno Praticò (Dottor Bartolo) and Ruggiero Raimondi (Don Basilio) are delightfully funny, but their experience allows them to bring out all of the sarcasm, greed and selfishness of the two gloaters with telling effect.
Emilio Sagi's stage direction is insightful and incisive, while Llorenc Corbella's stage design could not be more eloquent and tasteful, simple yet visually compelling. His transformation from the opening black and white set to a dazzlingly colourful closing scene is a true masterstroke.
The documentary, 'The Useless Precaution' imparts valuable information on Rossini's original score as well as Sterbini's ingenious creations. A memorable undertaking, painstakingly conceived and sumptuously executed.
Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech