This has the fizz and sparkle of a live recording with all the benefits of a studio set. Gui and his enchanting cast were the first to strip the opera down and return to something nearer the composers intentions. Although by modern standards this is not a "critical" edition or a period instrument performance it is surely closer than most recordings to the spirit of of the piece.
Many cuts are opened up and the singing, while discreetly decorated is never vulgar or out of character. The sense of ensemble, so necessary in this opera, creates a feeling of openhearted joy. this is such a happy performance, filled with latin sunshine and high spirits.
As Rosina, De Los Angeles is adorable, the pretty and plump heroine to the letter. Although a soprano there are no show off embellishments, and (thank heavens) no ridiculous high e's. She sings the original mezzo version, which is perfectly suited to her darker, smoky voice, while the top notes have a brilliance that mezzo's find hard to muster. As always with this glorious singer the enthusiasm is infectious. She has excellent comic timing (As in the scene where she tries to conjure an excuse to her guardian for using a pen for writing to her would-be lover - exquisite)and brings rich and warm, often sensual, tone to her part.
Alva's Almaviva is in good form too. He also recorded the role with Callas, but here he's in more balanced company. Bruscantini's Figaro is not too hammy nor too reticent, a good balance that can be lived with. And the whole cast pull together it seems to create the special atmosphere necessary to really preserve something special. A great recording of the century it certainly is, for it was the beginning of a Rossini Revolution in which his works were reassessed. But above all, and most importantly, this recording is FUN!