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Cat. No. CHAN 3025(2) Price: £18 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 3025 - Rossini: The Barber Of Seville
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Rossini wrote forty operas – all of them before his thirty-eighth birthday – yet a time came when he was remembered as the composer of just one: The Barber of Seville. A comedy of intrigue the original Barber (a play written by Beaumarchais in 1775) was based on the conventions of comic opera going back to the old Italian comedy of masks, with the hoariest of plots: the old guardian whose plan to marry his pretty ward is foiled by young love and clever servants; indeed Beaumarchais had originally written in with ‘numbers’ to be set to music.

With the play well established, the reigning Italian composer of the late eighteenth century, Giovanni Paisiello turned it into a comic opera which was very successful. By the time Rossini started work on it in 1816, Paisiello was out of date; the Napoleonic wars had brought forward a new audience and Rossini provided them with what they wanted: fizz, zing and speed.

As well as the best of pure comic operas in the Italian tradition, it was almost the last. Rossini’s own Cinderella of the following year, and the best remembered of Donizetti’s comic works (The Elixir of Love and Don Pasquale), have that touch of sentiment or realism that speaks from a more cushioned epoch. Comic opera was in any case going out of vogue: it didn’t suit the new order after the fall of Napoleon. But the Barber distils the old comic-opera temper, a union of the nonsensical and the ruthless.
Reviews

…here is an assertion that recorded opera in English translation is alive still. But it is more than that… I maintain that the enterprise has never been more brilliantly done.
Opera

The delightful translation… is clearly enunciated, and ENO’s orchestra under Gabriele Bellini despatches Rossini’s sparkling score with great zest.
BBC Music Magazine

His [Bruce Ford] diction is exemplary, his singing stylish, and his vocal characterisation of the amorous young count both lively and engaging.
BBC Music Magazine

 

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