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Rossini - Il Signor Bruschino

Massimiliano Barbolini, tenor / Alessandro Codeluppi, tenor / Clara Giangaspero, mezzo-soprano / Dario Giorgelè, bass / Maurizio Leoni, baritone / Antonio Marani, baritone / Vito Martino, tenor / Elena Rossi, soprano / Italian Virtuosi / Claudio Desderi, conductor

Naxos Opera Classics
: 8660128 [80 mins, 2002, Ferrara, released June 2004]

A marvellous performance and recording which I am unable to recommend! Il Signor Bruschino, its overture known for its once-only-funny tapping on the violinists' music stands. It was the last of Rossini's youthful one-act farsa giocosa to be composed, and seems to be amongst the best (q.v. Opera North's successful Love's luggage lost - in English).

What market research does Naxos do for their vocal releases? This website, and Seen&Heard before it, are both firmly committed to a belief that operas and songs are mostly word-driven, so that it is essential for listeners to have easy access to texts in languages they understand. Obviously you cannot expect everything for £4.99, but in our view that is axiomatic, so this new farcical opera release disqualifies itself. Naxos has gone half-way to the obvious solution (certainly so far as computer users are concerned) by including the Italian libretto and also making available some libretti on their website. But those I have checked out seem to be only in original languages, and some of them are readily available elsewhere on the Web. Maybe no translation exists of Il Signor Bruschino?

Heard over breakfast, without worrying too much, this account of it fizzes and sparkles, and with a strong cast and lively support from Claudio Desderi and the Italian Virtuosi it is delightful to overhear (skipping most of the recits).

But how many of us can be bothered to follow the Italian and pick out the few obvious words we understand (I suspect that Italian speakers can get all they need without the written text, the diction seems exemplary and the patter-items amazingly virtuosic) or alternaively to pore over the small print of the synopsis, into the clotted text of which the fun vanishes?

This theme has been pursued at length in connection with Universal's ill-considered re-release of the Dorati/Philips Haydn Operas. I should prefer purchasers to have English translations provided in Naxos's opera and song booklets (paying a little more if necessary) or available from on their website, as some companies are now doing.

If this budget presentation suits you, this Il Signor Bruschino will lift the spirits and your £4.99 will be well spent.

Readers' responses to this issue would be appreciated?


© Peter Grahame Woolf