Gioacchino Rossini Le comte Ory Florez Damrau DiDonatoGioacchino Rossini – Le comte Ory

CAST: Juan Diego Florez: Comte Ory, Diana Damrau: Comtesse Adèle, JoyceDiDonato: Isolier, Michele Pertusi: Le Gouverneur, Stéphane Degout: Raimbaud, Monica Yunus: Alice, Susanne Resmark: Ragonde, Tony Stevenson and Tyler Simpson: Courtiers

The Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra & Chorus
Donald Palumbo, chorus master
Maurizio Benini, conductor

Production by Bartlett Sher

Virgin Classics, 2011

This wonderful production of Le comte Ory has several strong points. First of all, the stage direction is fantastic. It is clear and does not disturb the action – which is something unusual in our days – and has some strokes of genius for the comic aspects of the story, as Ory’s disguises, which becomes irresistible. The scenography is essential, but you will never have the impression that the stage is empty thanks to the colourful accessories (look at the hats of the chorus in the first act) or to wide and not less flamboyant dresses (as the countess’s gowns).

This production features three stars of the operatic firmament in the leading roles of Ory, Adèle and Isolier.
The title role is performed by the unsurpassable Juan Diego Florez, already veteran of the role, which he sang at the beginning of his career in Florence opposite Annick Massis and which he has recorded at the Rossini Opera Festival in 2003.

I do not know if this is Juan Diego Florez’s favourite production, but I hardly remember to have seen him more amused than when he played the title role in the Met Ory. The tenor is not a pathetic, romantic character for once but is a pestiferous young man who thinks up the most improbable disguises to approach the object of his desires and Florez enjoys them with great irony and an irresistible comic verve: notice his faces when he plays the hermit and his little hops when he is disguised as Sœur Colette. Add to this his mastery and easiness to sing to which he accustomed us and you will have the perfect Rossinian hero.

Diana Damrau portrays the countess Adèle as a sophisticated and nicely mincing lady, who demands the attention she deserves both for her acting and for her singing. She has a clear voice with a bright and full bodied high register, which sparkles with stunning and exciting sovracuti, and pyrotechnical coloratura.

Joyce DiDonato captures the listener-watcher’s attention without difficulty. Her voice is not as beautiful as those of the other two protagonists, but her interpretation and her temperament make her irreplaceable. She portrays Isolier with youthful impatience and impetus, but does not forget to stress also his devotion to Adèle and the misplaced trust in the hermit.

Michele Pertusi sings Ory’s tutor. He is a correct singer, but not very expressive. His character is never really grumpy or annoyed by his restless pupil, even if he manages to give this idea at least in his acting.

Maurizio Benini’s conduction is not one of my favourites because it is sometimes a little too hasty and its tempi are too fast.