28 March 2012 | TheLittleSongbird
A fun production of an underrated gem
Il Turco in Italia mayn't be my favourite of Rossini's opera, but it's a lot of fun with lovely music. Very much like this production. Is it flawless? Not quite, I liked it very much, but there were a couple of annoyances. Some of the staging felt very awkward, more in the support cast than with the leads, giving the impression that some performers didn't completely know what they were supposed to be doing. Also a problem was the stage noise, inevitably there was going to be some, but did it have to be so noisy that it detracted from the drama? On the other hand, I did like the bright and colourful sets and the costumes(minus the straw hats) were appealing. The video direction is not the best I've seen but it was clear and sharp with some good close ups(once you get past those of Bartoli's occasionally contorted facial expressions). Rossini's music is wonderful, can't enough of Selim and Geronio's patter duet, and I have to say the orchestral playing was one of the best assets of this performance, subtle, nuanced and playful. The conducting is brisk and energetic.
The performances are good, sometimes even great. The great ones are Cecilia Bartoli and Ruggero Raimondi. Bartoli's facial expressions as I've said can have a tendency to be contorted, but she is a warm and vibrant presence overall with great comic timing, and her voice has a smoky beauty to it singing the difficult colouratura with ease. Raimondi may have been better vocally, but it still produced a good sound with even better style(essential for Rossini). His acting, as ever, is extraordinary, his years of experience(40+ years?) speaks volumes.
I agree to some extent that Paolo Rumetz is a little young for Don Geronio, but the singing is beautiful and unforced and he looks natural on the stage. Reinaldo Macias has a lovely, agile voice if not exactly powerful, and he is a good actor especially with what he does with his cane. Oliver Widmer ties the opera together to some extent and he's solid. Judith Schmid is perhaps the weak link, not because she's bad, but I would have preferred a stronger voice for the role of Zaid.
All in all, I love Rossini and I found this production fun if not quite great. 7/10 Bethany Cox