Rossini in Bad Wildbad 2015

Lindpaintner wikiPeter Joseph von Lindpaintner is one of many composers that have fallen into oblivion. Born in Koblenz 8th December 1791 he studied under Peter von Winter. As music director he worked first in Munich and then as Hofkapellmeister in Stuttgart. In the latter position Lindpaintner was appreciated by Schumann and Berlioz, and Mendelssohn wrote in a letter: “Der Lindpaintner ist, glaub’ ich, jetzt der beste Orchesterdirigent in Deutschland; es ist, als wenn er mit seinem Tactstöckchen die ganze Musik spielte” (Lindpaintner is now, I believe, the best director in Germany; it’s as if, with his batons, it’s him who plays the entire music). Almost forgotten nowadays, in his time he was held in high regard. The few things one can hear from Lindpaintner on youtube show a fertile talent, without the originality of other composers. The pieces are not memorable, but worth hearing. Regarding the opera presented in Bad Wildbad, Lindpaintner chose a historic/romantic/exotic subjects, as they were very fashionable at the time and the libretto of Die sizilianische Vesper by Heribert Rau makes no exception. It tells the story of the rebellion that broke out in Sicily during Easter of 1282 against the rule of the French king Charles I. Lindpaintner’s Die sizilianische Vesper (in Wildbad played as Il vespro siciliano, a version prepared by the composer) follows the trend of upcoming German grand opéra in the likes of Wagner’s Rienzi or some of the Marschner operas, while the musical model for the opera was clearly the grand opéra of Guillaume Tell, La muette de Portici, but mostly Meyerbeer.

Hearing a new piece of music for the first time is always a treat, just pity that two numbers were not played (choir and ballet in act III and Eleonora’s aria in act IV). Musically the opera in its entirety did not satisfy. It’s never very clear where the plot is going. Only the 4th act, which begins with a jailer being fooled and ends with the rebellion of the Sicilians, is very convincing. Although there are many lovely melodies, the musical inventions are without the dramatic depth one is accustomed to in Meyerbeer. Also the closing of the acts seem to come out of nowhere without a proper build-up. Nonetheless it remains a highly enjoyable evening just for the sake of hearing a musical novelty.

bianca_e_falliero_Forte-Tarver-Bad-Wildbad-2015 der neue merkerThe main Rossini opera given in Bad Widlbad was Bianca e Falliero, which was composed by Rossini in a hectic period for the Scala of Milan. Criticised by the contemporary press, it run for 39 evenings, a considerable number even for the time. About Bianca e Falliero Stendhal, in his Vie de Rossini, writes: Quant a la partition de Rossini, tout était reminiscence. If anything, the opposite is true. Rossini only uses the final rondo from the recently composed Donna del lago, but, except for a few hints, the music is original from the beginning to the end. In fact, Rossini will use some of the music for Moïse, Maometto II and Siège de Corinthe. The wonderful Act II quartet was inserted in a 1824 Parisian staging of La donna del lago. Except for the already mentioned Act II quartet, I personally think the Act I quartet Cielo il mio labbro ispira is equally beautiful as are the two duets of soprano and contralto (duets between soprano and contralto are always a treat in every Rossini opera).

L’inganno felice is a farsa, a short comic opera, the third staged opera composed for Venice when Rossini was not even 20 years old. L’inganno felice was quite successful in Italy and beyond. The Bad Wildbad staging is again simple and altogether satisfactory. Music-wise very good with a cast that was pleasing throughout the opera.

220px-Manuel_Garcia_as_Otello_in_Paris_from_Gallica A little unknown gem was proposed this year: Le cinesi, a one act opera composed by Manuel Garcia, a world class tenor in Rossini’s time (the first Almaviva in the Roman Il barbiere di Siviglia), composer, renowned teacher and partially famous for being the father of two famous primadonnas of the 19th century: Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot. The plot of Le cinesi was used by several composers including Gluck. The voices were not perfect but some of them were very promising. The young singers all sang passionately and charmed with their enthusiasm. This 1hour and 15 minute long opera was a sheer delight to hear and watch.

Untitled The singers reunited this year in Bad Wildbad were mostly good. Bianca’s role was sung by Cinzia Forte, a soprano I heard several times lately, not from her best side, though, I must say. In Wildbad the approach was very cautious but with the help of the director Forte was utterly convincing in a very difficult role. Kenneth Tarver sang well but from the moment the singing line rose to higher notes, all coloratura was flattened and the voice sounded forced. I am unsure on what to say about the Falliero of Victoria Yarovaya. She certainly was appreciated by the public who loved the rapid coloratura, the house came down after each of her solo aria’s. Her voice is a typical Slavic voice with a slight vibrato, not a warm voice and a times a bit dry; Her coloratura was quick but not always di forza and a bit uneven. I’d certainly like to hear her again. Baurzhan Anderzhov, who was the 4th of the quartet and who sang also the villain in L’inganno felice, sang with a steady and beautiful voice and credible acting. The setting in Bianca e Falliero by Primo Antonio Petris was minimal but effective. A few huge golden frames gave partition to the stage and the pictures of Venice in the background immediately defined the location. Artavazd Sargsyan always convinced me in previous years but Bertrando’s entrance aria in Untitled2L’inganno felice was slightly nasal and quite unclean in the coloratura. Something I hope is an exception in this young singer’s career. Tiziano Bracci and Lorenzo Regazzo were superb in singing and acting. In fact what made the opera a delight was the comic verve of Lorenzo Regazzo. The “teneste la promessa”-joke was hilarious for who got it. A real actor who brought this lovely farsa to life. I personally prefer Della Benetta much more as Eleonora in Il vespro siciliano, where she is able to display her dramatic interpretation, than as Isabella, where she sounded a bit rigid. She has a strong and beautiful voice and I would like to hear her again, maybe in an unknown, dramatic Mercadanta, Pacini, Carafa, Coccia, or Manfroce. Danilo Formaggia as Conte di Fondi has a worn out voice, and it’s quite painful to hear him especially in the first act where his role is quite present. Cesar Arrieta is a charming Siveno and a fresh-voiced Drouet. Matija Meic sings well but I would have wished a king with more authority. Authority which Russo doesn’t lack, who also sings well. I much enjoyed Ana Victoria Pitts’ singing and acting as Tangìa.

Antonino Fogliani directs lightly with verve and vivacity (at times a tad too quick). Federico Longo directs well and brings the forgotten Vespro to life with a big sense of musicality. The Virtuosi Brunensis orchestra didn’t play well: many mistakes, smudged notes, wrong entries ecc. The Bach Choir Poznan sang adequately though with a miserable pronunciation.

All in all a wonderful program, which I much enjoyed although I would prefer Italian (-style) composers to German (after all it’s called “Belcanto Festival”)

To close with a minor note: This year in Bad Wildbad my hotel was close to the new parking lot. A slab of concrete close to the festival area. And I started to realized how much of it was present in Bad Wildbad: The concrete roofing of the shops just below the café Melange, the building just next to the Palais thermal, several houses in the shopping street, many of the small bridges that cross the Enz in the village centre just to name a few, which are just too many for an 11000 souls’ village.

23/7: Il vespro siciliano: Conductor-Federico Longo, Carlo d’Anjou-Matija Meic, Alphonse Drouet-César Arrieta, Il conte di Fondi-Danilo Formaggia, Eleonora-Silvia della Benetta, Celinda-Sara Baneras, Aurelia-Sara Blanch, Albino-Ana Victoria Pitts, Guillaume l’Etendard-Carlos Natale, Il conte di Marche/Francesco Ruffo/il carceriere-Damian Whiteley, De Bellecour-Daniele Caputo, Giovanni da Procida-Dario Russo, Visconte Vernazzo-Carlos Natale, il conte di Sanseverino-Gheroghe Vlad, Albergio da Barbiano-Marco Simonelli, Virtuosi brunensis, Bach Choir Poznan,
26/7: Bianca e Falliero: Contareno-Kenneth Tarver, Capellio-Baurzhan Anderzhanov, Bianca-Cinzia Forte, Falliero-Victoria Yarovaya, Priuli-Laurent Kubla, Loredano-Marconi Banaś, Costanza-Marina Viotti, Cancelliere e ufficiale-Artavazd Sargsyan, Conductor-Antonino Fogliani, Virtuosi brunensis, Bach Choir Poznan, Direction-Primo Antonio Petris
23/7: L’inganno felice: Bertrando-Artavazd Sargsyan, Isabella-Silvia Dalla Benetta, Ormondo-Baurzhan Anderzhanov, Batone-Tiziano Bracci, Tarabotto-Lorenzo Regazzo, Virtuosi brunensis
25/7: Le cinesi: Piano-Michele d’Elia, Regie-Jürgen Schönleber, Lisinga-Sara Baneras, Sivene-Silvia Aurea De Stefano, Tangia-Ana Victoria Pitts, Silango-César Arrieta
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Une folie organisée o Guillaume Tell, L’occasione fa il ladro and L’italiana in Algeri at the Rossini Opera Festival 2013

imagesThe ROF or Rossini Opera Festival: The yearly festival dedicated to the opera’s of that tornado that revolutionized the musical world in 1810-1820. Pesaro is a small and pretty town on sunny adriatic, one eats well, enjoys the sea, in the evening one saunters well dressed in the centro storico or along the lungomare. There is also much music to be enjoyed and the happenings are semi-chique considering that one can sip Prosecco next to Alfred Brendel, be seated in a box next to Raina Kabaivanska or ask Patsy (aka Joanna Lumley) to light one’s sigarette during the break.
The 3 opera’s of the ROF 2013 are Guillaume Tell, L’occasione fa il ladro and L’italiana in Algeri.

tellThis year’s big attraction was meant to be Guillaume Tell. “Un’opera strana” was a comment from two well-read opera aficionado’s behind me. And one of the first Grand operà’s is indeed a little strange, with strikes of genius but also with long choral passages and little action. One can try to explain this with a mediocre libretto, or Rossini’s difficulty to adapt to the French style. The opera is undeniably quite long and includes the women’s terzetto in Act 4 and Jemmy’s aria in act 3, two often cut pieces.
Much has been written and discussed about Florez’s interpretation of Arnold, as the role is long and difficult, and his vocality does not seem fit for this heavier role. But he gets through the role and the first 3 acts without major problems. He sings a very moving Asile hereditaire in Act 4 but a mechanical Amis, amis in a discrete French. Big personal success and much applause of course, but Florez is an absolute star in Pesaro. I felt that Marina Rebeka’s voice was less controlled than in Amsterdam a couple of months back, with slightly screamed high notes and less precise coloratura (Mariotti’s tempi did not help) but she sang with a strong and steady voice. Like in Amsterdam, I did not like Nicola Alaimo as Tell, his stage presence and voice were not important enough to interpret the Swiss hero, neither in the heroic, nor in the more lyrical moments. In this Guillaume Tell, Jemmy’s aria, which is often cut, is re-introduced, but the game isn’t worth the candle neither for the piece on its own nor for the interpreter. Amanda Forsythe, whom I vividly remember as a spirited and sparkling Rosalia in L’equivoco stravagante in 2008 (Pesaro) sings well and with a good stage presence but with little voice and reducing the aria to a coloratura showpiece. The other singers were adequately cast although some of them had an execrable pronunciation.
tell5The musical director Michele Mariotti starts with a well directed Ouverture, playing with well placed rubati, but as already said, the opera is long and needs a director who is able to keep the suspense down to the wire. Although undeniably a good director, Mariotti had some odd choices of tempi and was not able to span the musical arch to the end.
Graham Vick’s direction is all based on socialist symbolism and a repeated display of the Habsburgs’ violence and humiliation over the Swiss. It’s a bit repetitive at times but it does not necessarily disturb the action. It is in fact quite conventional, occasionally even trivial (the stairs at the end; the soppy movie of Arnold’s father…) but the ballabili were very moving and well danced, although part of the public did not appreciate them, booing the dancers (shouldn’t they boo the director instead??). All in all, nothing to get overly excited or overly disappointed about. Just a bit too much.

occasione160813_640xL’occasione fa il ladro: One of the loveliest of the farse written for the Venetian teatro San Moisé, if you ask me. It is clear from the music Rossini forges for this short opera (eg the elaborate aria for Berenice and intricate second finale, which comprises several different musical structures) that the short form of farsa (a comic opera usually in one act, originating in Venice or Naples) was too tight to Rossini’s musical fecundity and inventiveness.
The production is the one Jean-Pierre Ponnelle created for Pesaro in 1987. It is based on simple and traditional acting with painted scenes and few props. The group of singers reunited is a mix of young newcomers like Enea Scala and Victoria Yarovaya, and more recurrent ROF singers like Roberto de Candia and Paolo Bordogna. The cast is good although one could pick about the insufficient coloratura di forza of one, the strained voice in the higher register of the other, the slight backwards voice of a third or the somewhat stiffness in acting of a fourth. But the group effort made it a very enjoyable musical evening.
occsI would like to mention Elena Tsallagova in the role of Berenice. She sang the loveliest Arpa gentil I ever heard life, in the 2011 Viaggio a Reims production in Pesaro (the yearly performance given after the seminar dedicated to interpretation of Rossini’s music). Unfortunately she made a bad choice with Contessa di Folleville of the same opera in Ghent in 2012. With her Berenice I found again the beautiful and pure voice I heard in 2011. Her coloratura can be impeccable if she finds a director who gives her the time to deploy it properly. Given a wise selection of adequate roles (belcanto, mostly, I hope) I wish Ms Tsallagova a very fruitful career.
The (female) musical director was Yi-Chen Lin, who directed with precision and supported the singers .

The third opera was L’Italiana in Algeri, which Rossini, already a small celebrity now, after the successes of Tancredi and La pietra del paragone composed for the Venetian Teatro San Benedetto in May 1813.
italiana150813_640xAlex esposito as Mustafà sings with impeccable pronunciation and nice, fullbodied voice. Which is a bit short in the deeper register but this does not lessen the overall respectable performance which he sings with precise enough coloratura in the florid passages. Mario Cassi as Taddeo and Mariangela Sicilia as Elvira sang admirable and Davide Luciano (as always accompanied by his good friend the eunuch…) gave a good interpretation of his aria, which btw, was not composed by Rossini but by an unknown collaborator. Yijie Shi does not have Florez’s smooth voice but he is a fine singer and comes across the difficult part of Lindoro quite well. The Isabella of Goryachova, on the other hand, was a questionable point. Clearly at ease with the coloratura, with a velvety voice, she is, however, a clear mezzosoprano, which makes it easy for her to fling to the higher, but gives her some trouble in the lower notes, which are barely audible (I had the same impressions when she sang Matilde di Shabran‘s Edoardo in Pesaro last year). Why she keeps singing contralto roles is unclear to me, which, if satisfactory when heard on radio, is unacceptable in a theatre, as her voice does not expand or spread well (She was a nice, velvet-voice Zerlina in Zurich, though)
Unfortunately the musical direction of this Italiana was given to José Ramon Encinar who directs in an unimaginative, lifeless, tedious and vigor-less manner. Never have i heard the Comunale di Bologna play so mechanically and with so little energy.
Where this Italiana scores brilliantly, in my opinion, is the 60’s-inspired direction by the always inventive Davide Livermore. It is quite difficult to list all the actions that are happening on stage. But Livermore’s interpretation is probably encouraged by the nonsense-inspired libretto (din-din, bum bum, pappataci etc); What we see on stage is a constant movement, a flow of people and animation, a non-stop of gags, a sophisticated machinery who brings us from Rome to Algiers, which shows us a plane crash on stage and an aquarium with a shark. From this point of view the singers were also fantastic actors, Alex Esposito jumps, dances, hops and leaps with astonishing energy, Goryachova showed us an enviable figure as the seducing Italian lady, and the innumerable variety of supporting characters like tourists, stewardesses and housemaids fill the stage with action; What I liked most is the dancing on stage, especially during the concertati and the strette, which accentuates so well Rossini’s musical sparkle and energy. Too much? De gustibus…

Guillaume Tell: Direttore-Michele Mariotti, Regia-Graham Vick, Scene e costumi-Paul Brown, Coreografie-Ron Howell, Progetto luci-Giuseppe di Iorio, Guillaume Tell- Nicola Alaima, Arnold Melchtal-Juan Diego Florez, Walter Furst-Simon Orfila, Melchtal-Simone Alberghini, Jemmy-Amanda Forsythe, Gesler-Luca Tittoto, Rodolphe-Alessandro Luciano, Ruodi Pêcheur-Celso Albelo, Leuthold / Un Chasseur-Wojtek Gierlach, Mathilde-Marina Rebeka, Hedwige-Veronica Simenoni, 20 august 2013

L’occasione fa il ladro: Direttore-Yi-Chen Lin, Regia, scene e costumi-Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Ripresa della regia-Sonja Frisell, Don Eusebio-Giorgio Misseri, Berenice-Elena Tsallagova, Conte Alberto-Enea Scala, Don Parmenione-Roberto de Candia, Ernestina-Viktoria Yarovaya, Martino-Paolo Bordogna, 21 august 2013

L’italiana in Algeri: Direttore-José Ramon Encinar, Regia-Davide Livermore, Scene e Progetto luci-Nicolas Bovey, Costumi-Gianluca Falaschi, Mustafà Alex Esposito, Elvira-Mariangela Sicilia, Zulma-Raffaella Lupinacci, Haly-Davide Luciano, Lindoro-Yijie Shi, Isabella-Anna Goryachova, Taddeo-Mario Cassi, 22 august 2013; Pictures from http://www.rossinioperafestival.it/

Grand Opéra in the Black Forest, or Guillaume Tell in Bad Wildbad

gtWhat to say about Rossini’s Guillaum Tell that has not already been said?
Rossini’s swan song….The first Grand Opéra (after la Muette) and still regularly performed today….one of the most famous ouvertures in opera history….the “music of the future” (supposedly said by Wagner when he visited Rossini in Paris)….”Act 1, 3 and 4 composed by Rossini but Act 2 written by God” (Donizetti).
Fact is that at it’s first production in Paris at Salle Le Pelletier the 3rd August 1829, it was indeed a very long opera, and already after the third performance it was shortened to various lengths. An extreme example, heard in various variants, wants Rossini strolling down a Parisian Avenue, when he crossed the director of the Opéra who proudly told him that Act II of Guillaume Tell had been performed the previous night; Rossini, with the caustic wit that characterized him, retorted:” What, the whole of it?”
Performance was not always easy due to the political message of liberty, and censors forced changes almost everywhere: it  was performed in London and Berlin as Hofer, the Tell of Tyrol, in St. Petersburg as Charles the Bold, in Milan as Vallace, as Rodolfo di Sterlinga in Rome and Bologna, etc etc
The singers required for this opera are a tenore drammatico with huge stamina. The part (similarly to Raoul in Les Huguenots and Eleazar in La juive) was written for Adolphe Nourrit, who sang the higher notes in falsetto. The role was later taken on by Gilbert Luis Duprez, who introduced the then rarely performed chest voice. Also needed are a soprano with some agility for her aria in act 3, an acute tenor for the smaller part of the fisherman and a baritone for Tell.
The team in Bad Wildbad performed the opera, seemingly without any cuts.
Honest opinion? Interesting, Very interesting, even. Nice to have on CD. But far from memorable and I am not sure about the artistic value of the operation. If one had these kind of singers, why not stage a rare opera? There is so much beautiful music out there which one longs to hear more often, many opera’s by Vaccai, Pacini and Mercadante come to mind.
tellAnyway, the main singers had adequate voices although Judith Howarth is not a Rossinian soprano, lacking lightness and agility. Michael Spyres has all the notes and and excellent French but seems indifferent to what he is actually singing. Andrew Foster Williams and Nahuel di Pierro sing adequately the roles of Tell and Melchtal. Tara Stafford has a petulant, wee voice of light soprano. Additionally she got awarded with Jemmy’s aria (an aria just before Tell’s “Sois immobile“) where she wishes her father the best of luck. A never ending piece, really, luckily cut in all the Tell performances I know (my musical company for the evening puffed and rolled his eyes to heaven several times during the piece). Artavazd Sargsyan in the role of the fisherman sang very well with a clear and pure top register.
Antonino Fogliani directs capably the demanding score. See Ricciardo and Zoraide for orchestra and chorus. Schönleber, on the other hand, has nothing better to show than an idiocy after the other. I understand the need to save money, but while I enjoy reminiscing last year’s “I briganti” by Mercadante, a merciful Goddess will hopefully consign this pitiful nonsense to oblivion.
Musical director-Antonino Fogliani, Inszenierung-Jochen Schönleber, Bühnenbild-Robert Schrag, Kostüme-Claudia Möbius, Guillaume Tell-Andrew Foster Williams, Arnold-Michael Spyres,Walter/Melchtal-Nahuel di Pierro, Jemmy-Tara Stafford, Gesler-Raffaele Facciolà, Rodolphe-Giulio Pelligra, Ruodi-Artavazd Sargsyan, Leuthold-Marco Filippo Romano, Hedwige-Judith Howarth,Hedwige-Alessandra Volpe
Bad Wildbad, 21.07.13

Guillaume Tell by A. E. M. Gretry @ Opera Liege

guillaume_tell3

André Ernest Modeste Gretry is one of those fairly forgotten composers whose operas receive rare but regular revivals. Gretry was born in Liege in 1741. Then Principality of Liege, the city became part of France in 1795 when it was part of the Ourthe department. At the Fall of the First French Empire it became Dutch and in 1830 Belgian (we opera lovers know this story quite well. Thanks, Auber!!). Gretry wasn’t touched in the least with all this, as he left for Italy, Switzerland and Paris already in the 60’s of the 18th century. He became quite a famous composer, he knew Voltaire and Rousseau; later-guillotined Marie-Antoinette  made him court-composer of her husband, and he found a way to ingratiate himself with Napoleon who knighted him Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. He died in 1813, is buried in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris but his heart rests in an urn, placed under the statue in his honour in front of the Opera Royal de Wallonie in Liege.

His most famous opera’s are Richard Coeur de LionZemire et Azor, and Pierre le GrandGuillaume Tell was premiered 9th April 1791 in Paris at the Comedie Italienne, two years after the French revolution. It was the same year of Mozart’s Zauberlföte (which he started to compose in April of that year), of La Clemenza di Tito, of the Clarinet Concerto and of Mozart’s death in December of the same year. Gretry’s biggest accomplishment lies in opera comique and his influence is still noticeable with Adam, Boildeau, Auber and others. For today’s ears (or MINE, anyway) he sounds fairly “light”. Although Gretry has been praised to have a gift for melody, the music overall sounds quite trivial, alternating more dramatic passages and characters with heroic and affectionate ones. He recurs to ariette (literally small aria’s), hopping rhythms and popular songs with simple accompaniment, using as couleur-locale a clarinet playing alpine music, octave leaps to imitate yodel and similar know-how, trying to merge italianism with German music and French declamato.

It is the Opera de Liege, who commemorates the 200th death anniversary of the composer. This opera house is doing a very good job in resuscitating rare opera’s, though with very alternating results.

If the audience expected to hear a famous finale, an even more famous gallop during the ouverture, and cry a little moved by tragic events, they probably mistook this with Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, composed 38 years later, although Rossini might have known the opera, which was staged in May 1828, the time Rossini worked on his Comte Ory (In an interview Scimone said that he noticed in the first bars of music the musical theme that Rossini used for his sumptuous finale (with a light difference in rhythm, he added).

The plot is well known to everybody: Tell refuses to salute a hat placed on a mast by the mean local lord and is forced to shoot an apple from his son’s head. The end is happy.

GuillaumeTell

The main set shows elements put one behind the other as to give a sense of depth. The set elements depict mountains, a village, a castle and even puppets of peasants and soldiers in a fighting scene etc. They are all mobile and quite beautifully created (Jean-Guy Lecat). They are moved by stagehands dressed as sailors, as, so tells us Mazzonis de Pralafera, at the time of Gretry, the ropes and strings were entirely moved by sailors (were they? really??). The result is very effective and charming. Costumes are averagely convincing. Di Pralafera makes the singer all act with overly-dramatic voices and gestures (to be funny one shall assume) but for my taste they achieve the contrary (the Belgian public is not amused or moved either, but then again….sometimes I wonder what does….)

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The singers are all Belgians, commemorating a Belgian composer in a Belgian opera house…..
Anne-Catherine Gillet is very well cast as Madame Tell. She is at the starting ramp of her career and is now adding Traviata’s to her repertory (sic!). M.me Tell, who is the only character to have an aria in the opera, sings with a strong voice over the whole range, though her voice sounds a bit metallic at times. Marc Laho as Tell has a clear voice with a pleasant timbre. Lionel Lhote never really convinced me as a singer (Figaro in Rossini’s Barbiere in Ghent, Dandini in Brussels etc), sometimes a bit unrefined and uneven with a backward voice. As Gessler he lacks the low notes required in his entrance piece but otherwise he sings with a pleasing timbre. Liesbeth Devos’ timbre reminds me a bit of Mady Mesplé’s, so not one you would define as round and mellow, but she sings the small role of Marie well. And so does the rest of the cast.

Scimone directs well though little theatrically, but orchestra and choir are both approximate and croaky.

This production is overall very interesting, it increases our knowledge of Grétry as a composer of music for the theatre  Nothing is really out of place, the production is sparkling and satisfying. A very pleasant evening.

Ouverture and excerpts of the Liege production can be viewed online

Musical direction-Claudio Scimone, Direction-Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, Set design-Jean-Guy Lecat, Costumes-Fernand Ruiz, Lightning-Franco Marri, Guillaume Tell-Marc Laho, Madame Tell-Anne-Catherine Gillet, Gessler-Lionel Lhote, Marie-Liesbeth Devos, Melktal senior-Patrick Delcour, Melktal junior-Stefan Cifolelli, The traveller-Roger Joakim

Liege, 7/6/2013