Rossini: Le comte Ory

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Le comte Ory
PERFORMER: Juan Diego Flórez, Alastair Miles, Marie-Ange Todorovitch, Bruno Praticò, Marina de Liso, Stefania Bonfadelli; Prague Chamber Choir, Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra/Jesús López-Cobos
CATALOGUE NO: 477 5020
Rossini’s musically most sophisticated comedy is heard here in a live performance from the 2003 Pesaro Festival. Apart from applause at the end, there’s no extraneous noise, though the sound quality varies from spacious for the orchestra to rather muddier for the voices. The show received mixed reviews, suggesting it was let down by the production and also by the musical side – the absence of French singers in all but one of the major roles does mean that the flavour of the text is rarely savoured. Bruno Praticò’s Raimbaud sounds inhibited, Alastair Miles’s Tutor is solid but humourless and even the one native French performer – Marie-Ange Todorovitch’s Isolier – is staid, despite her rich tone and strong technique. Other middling performances come from Marina de Liso as a plummy but characterful Ragonde and Stefania Bonfadelli’s technically challenged, dynamically unvaried Countess. Add to that the solemn conducting of Jesús López-Cobos and you’d think the set were well worth avoiding, but that is to disregard Juan Diego Flórez’s utterly winning account of the title role, which is certainly the finest on disc. The other thing the new version has going for it is completeness. The classic account, distinguished by virtuoso Rossini conducting from Vittorio Gui, comes on a 1956 set emanating from a famous Glyndebourne production. It’s better sung, with the exception of Juan Oncina in the title role, who is good but not as good as Flórez. But then who is? George Hall