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De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam (filmed for Dutch TV 1992)

David Malis
Jennifer Larmore
Richard Croft
Simone Alaimo
Renato Capecchi
Leonie Schoon
Roger Smeets

Chorus of the Netherlands Opera, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra conducted by Alberto Zedda
Director and Designer: Dario Fo

Arthaus 100 412 [154 mins]

Dario Fo's production is the first attraction for this production, and the first act sweeps you along with its unstoppable energy and bustling stage activity in a commedia del arte setting. It seems to be located nearer Venice than Seville with the street outside the Bartolo establishment full of entertainers and performers. It is exhilarating and, gradually, a little wearing too.

It begins brilliantly, with lively and well pointed delivery of the overture accompanied by a charming pantomime to engage the eyes but without distracting from the brio and elegance of the orchestral playing. There is a gorgeous tenor, Richard Croft, as the wooer Almaviva and Jennifer Larmore, who disports herself indoors on a swing, is worth his efforts.

A good, fresh alternative to the excellent Schwetzinger Festival Il Barbiere di Siviglia directed by Michael Hampe (Arthaus 100 090) with Cecilia Bartoli in excellent voice before she began to be troubled by breathing problems, coupled in a strongly recommended bargain box with a delightful L'Italiana in Algeri, also from Schwetzinger (Arthaus 100 120), with Doris Soffel "her effortless coloratura and fruity chest voice making us glad that the mezzos get so many of Rossini's best parts" (The Opera Critic).


© Peter Grahame Woolf