I admit up front that I took a chance on this recording of La Pietra del Paragone as nobody had yet bothered to create a review. I had seen a small film clip of the work on the Opus Arte website which intrigued me into wanting to see more and I already owned the other `high-tech' version of this work from the Chatelet Theatre, so I had some idea of what to expect.
Well, I was disappointed. This is obviously one of Rossini's less well-known works and certainly not one of his best. The work being reviewed appears to take place in the large rear garden of a very modern two-story villa during the timeframe of one afternoon. An odd assortment of colorfully dressed men and women seem to move from one table to another with drinks in hand while others attempt to play tennis or cavort in and around a small swimming pool. That seems to be the full content of the opera from beginning to end. There is not enough to interest oneself in any of the singers; most of who sing reasonably well. It is unfortunate that none of them appears very interesting as characters. Although much money appears to have been spent on the stageset, no changes occur throughout the work and the lighting, meant to represent a warm and sunny afternoon, is constant. Perhaps, if the time frame had extended into the early evening and for the lighting within the villa on stage to create a different ambience I might have become more interested in this work.
By contrast, the other version mentioned, has the terrific presence of the wonderfully expressive actress and singer Sonia Prima in a leading roll and she certainly makes the most of it. On top of this, having split screens and trick video effects with stagehands manipulating scenery in full view of the audience, but covered from head to toe in blue so that they do not appear against the blue screen, with the combined results appearing on screens suspended above the performers, prevent any possibility of boredom setting in. One is constantly waiting to see what new surprise will appear on stage next, and one is not disappointed.