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Rossini : Ciro in Babilonia

Pesaro, Teatro Rossini, 2012 (Audio)

Director: Will Crutchfield


Interpretes:
  • Mirco Palazzi (Zambri)
  • Michael Spyres (Baldassare)
  • Ewa Podles (Ciro)
  • Jessica Pratt (Amira)
  • Carmen Romeu (Argene)

    Archivos para descarga:
    1. https://rapidshare.com/files/1279292665/CiroinBabiloniaPS12A.zip


  •   Rossini : Ciro in Babilonia-Will Crutchfield - Pesaro, 2012
    Comentarios
    Aporte de Lele El Veneciano.

    The Bel Canto at Caramoor series can boast a good record of making news with historically informed presentations of little-known 19th-century Italian operas. This popular program, in its 16th year, did so again on Saturday night with a Rossini rarity, “Ciro in Babilonia,” first presented in Ferrara, Italy, in 1812, just weeks after the precocious Rossini’s 20th birthday.
    The opera, set in 539 B.C., is based on the Old Testament account of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, in his ultimately successful battle with Belshazzar, the ruler of Babylon. Rossini’s stirring score is melodically opulent and rich with intricate ensembles.

    Will Crutchfield, the orchestra e coro from the Teatro Comunale di Bologna and a splendid cast that included a couple of breakout performances from rising artists and a much-anticipated appearance by the astonishing Polish contralto Ewa Podles, who sings in the New York area too rarely.
    Now 60, Ms. Podles gave a vocally blazing account of the warrior Ciro (Cyrus), a demanding pants role. She sang with throbbing intensity, agile passagework, plush sound throughout an enormous range, and her distinctive mellow vocal colorings. Outside opera circles Ms. Podles has never attained the recognition her artistry merits. A towering Rossini singer, she has long had a devoted following, including many in the audience at Caramoor’s Venetian Theater, who greeted her first appearance onstage with a cheers and applause.

    The Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy, Rossini’s birthplace, with stage director Davide Livermore, working with the video designer Paolo Cucco, made this “Ciro” something closer to an innovative full production. The orchestra played in a cordoned-off area in front of the stage, on the same level as the audience seats.

    In this staging conceit the opera was presented as a screening of a silent-era film. In the opening scene the Festival Chorus — the men in tuxedos, the women in black dresses — took seats to watch a film on a video screen at the back of the stage. The videos included scenes from silent films with ancient warriors storming the ramparts of a fortressed city, as well as inventive depictions of the inner sanctums where Baldassare (Belshazzar) reigns, the surrounding desert where Cyrus gathered his troops for an assault, cloudy skies and starry firmaments. The images were streaked with lines to suggest scratched, faded film.

    In place of supertitles, crucial plot turns and key bits of dialogue were presented as silent-film captions. That had its charms, but the downside was that it was hard to know what the singers were saying. “Ciro in Babilonia” is a little-known work.

    In one late scene, for example, a caption alerted viewers that the imprisoned Ciro feared that he would never again see his wife and son. But what was Ciro actually saying? At a time when audiences have grown dependent on supertitles, it was frustrating to see Ms. Podles singing with such impassioned beauty but to not understand her fully.

    “Ciro in Babilonia” is a worthy candidate for revival, a heroic and serious musical drama. The complication that drives the story is that Ciro’s wife, Amira, and their young son have been captured by the brutish Baldassare, who is trying to force Amira to forget her husband and wed him. Ciro must resort to deception, presenting himself as an ambassador from his inner circle, to enter the enemy palace, gain his family’s freedom and put down Baldassare.

    The biggest single ovation of the night went to the villain, the tenor Michael Spyres, who brought his bright, penetrating voice and brilliant technique to the role of Baldassare. In Act II, when a bacchanalian banquet at Baldassare’s great hall is interrupted when a message foretelling his downfall is mysteriously written on the wall, Baldassare sings a tormented bel-canto mad scene. Mr. Spyres, ranging from chesty low tones to soaring high notes, gave such a fearless account that he was called back to the stage for a bow.

    The soprano Jessica Pratt was also outstanding as Amira, singing with gleaming sound, free and easy high notes, agile coloratura runs and lyrical grace. Every bel-canto opera, no matter the story, needs a subplot with young lovers. This one pairs Argene (Amira’s confidante) with Arbace, a captain in Baldassare’s army who turns against his wicked king. The sweet-voiced soprano Sharin Apostolou was a lovely Argene, and the ardent lyric tenor Eric Barry excelled as Arbace. Two strong baritones completed the cast: Scott Bearden as Zambri, an Assyrian prince; and Krassen Karagiozov as Daniello (the prophet Daniel), who deciphers the ominous writing on the wall.

    There were miscues and occasional moments of shaky ensemble in the performance. But some leeway was called for with musicians playing in the open air on a steamy summer night. Overall Mr. Crutchfield, playing recitative accompaniments on a fortepiano as well as conducting, led a stylish, well-paced and vibrant account of this impressive score.

    During the curtain calls there were scattered but lusty boos among the cheers when the director and video designer appeared. If Bel Canto at Caramoor keeps venturing into modern staging techniques, such reactions will go with the territory. In a way, it was a sign of arrival.

    (Edited from the critic of the same production seen in the Caramoor International Music Festival’s with the St. Luke´s Orchestra and the same cast. New York Times by Anthony Tommasini in July 2012)

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