It is very hard to take Le Comte Ory seriously, but as it's a comedy, there's no reason why you should. In the case of this 2009 Rossini Opera Festival production however, the director Lluís Pasqual unfortunately feels the need to impose a structure on the work and a distancing device of a play-within-a-play that is neither meaningful nor sympathetic to the comedy. Fortunately, despite the casting here not being as stellar as you might expect for quite demanding roles, the Pesaro production at least works very well musically and in terms of the singing.
Evidently then, the 2009 Rossini Opera Festival production isn't set during the time of the Crusades but rather, for no apparent reason, takes place in the Grand Hotel Rossini during the Belle Epoque on a set that looks more like La Traviata, with much of the action taking place on a billiard table and there not being any real effort put into making all the disguising and dressing up even half-way convincing. According to the booklet that comes with the DVD/BD release, the explanation for this is that the story of Le Comte Ory is being put on as a parlour game by a theatre group in order to explore their own erotic fantasies. You wouldn't know this otherwise, but even when you do know it, it still seems like a pointless conceit, particularly as the director seems to have forgotten that the work is actually supposed to be a comedy.
What the Belle Epoque setting does however, perhaps inadvertently, is actually emphasise the elegance and sophistication of Rossini's brilliant compositional skills. The score is sympathetically conducted in this respect by Paolo Carignani. Unsurprisingly, since it is mostly derived from Il Viaggio a Reims (a delightful work that was until relatively recently believed entirely lost), it moves at a spirited pace with a musical style that is indeed sparkling with elegance, cleverness and wit. Although they aren't given much support from the director and are no match for the incredible singing in the Met production, the singing is also very good. Chinese tenor Yijie Shi has the right kind of voice for high and lyrical Rossini roles like this. If you close your eyes, at times you could swear you're listening to Juan Diego Flórez, albeit not with the same force. Laura Polverelli is a fine Isolier and María José Moreno brings the necessary elegance and charm to her Comtesse Adèle.
The BD includes a 26-minute Making of made up of interviews and behind-the-scenes rehearsals. As usual the irrepressible Alberto Zedda, the artistic director of the Rossini Opera Festival, provides some insightful comments on the work and its place among Rossini's operas. Subtitles on the BD are in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian and Korean.