WORKS: Il Signor Bruschino
PERFORMER: Samuel Ramey, Kathleen Battle, Claudio Desderi, Octavio Arévalo, Frank Lopardo; ECO/Ion Marin
CATALOGUE NO: 435 865-2 DDD
In 1813, a month before his 21st birthday and three years before his Barber of Seville, Rossini had his one-act farsa Il Signor Bruschino premiered at the Teatro San Moisè in Venice. It was not well received, although its overture, with the second violins tapping their music-stands with their bows, has become popular.
The cast is strong, with Samuel Ramey providing the most potent performance as the duped guardian Gaudenzio. Claudio Desderi weaves through the absurd plot as the ridiculous figure of the elder Bruschino with a great deal of character, although the sound is somewhat threadbare at times. Frank Lopardo as the lovelorn Florville, pretending to be the young Bruschino, has a splendid, mellifluous tenor. Although a couple of Kathleen Battle’s trademark quick gasps are irritating, her glowing portrayal of Sofia, particularly the aria ‘Ah! donate il caro sposo’ with a brilliantly executed cor anglais obbligato, is a delight. Ion Marin occasionally tries to impose metronomic handcuffs but the orchestra and singers rise to Rossini’s score magnificently. The St John’s Smith Square acoustic jars as inappropriate, but this is definitely the first choice over its closest rival on Claves. Elise McDougall