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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned., 22 April 2010
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This review is from: Ermione: Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Davis) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
This forgotten tragic opera is now regarded by some as Rossini's masterpiece and this stunning Glyndebourne production would seem to confirm this in spades. Based on Racine's verse play Andromaque (which I studied at school)it tells of the devasting effect that the arrival of Hector's widow has on the lives of others when she seeks refuge at the court of Pyrrhus who is bethrothed to Ermione. Events start to unravel when Pyrrhus loses his heart to the guest from hell prompting Ermione (with justification)to seek revenge using as her tool Orestes, the man who is in love with her. Rossini doesn't waste a note in propelling the tragedy forward and under the baton of Andrew Davis the orchestra proves the perfect support for the dramatic singing/ acting of Anna Caterina Antonnaci who dominates the stage at her every appearance. With the exception of Jorge Lopez-Yanez who lacks the stage presence for Pyrrhus, the rest of the cast is very strong and altho' his acting is not of the best, Bruce Ford as Orestes (who according to legend proved himself quite a dab hand at slaughtering people) provides the finest singing of the production. The Palladian style sets work for me tho' Ms Antonacci is lumbered with a clumsy frock.I'm nit picking here; watching this dvd was for me,the equivalent of being taken on an emotional roller coaster ride.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful forgotten opera, 29 Aug. 2012
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Mrs. E. Watts (Barnsley England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ermione: Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Davis) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
Ermione was a complete flop when it was first written, possibly because it lacked a happy ending (something that was still something of a novelty at the time), or possibly because Rossini seems to have been trying harder than usual to stretch what could be done with the standard forms of opera of the day. Certainly it isn't because the music is poor or uninteresting. This is one of my favourite Rossini operas.

It was rediscovered in the 90s, and produced in a number of theatres, but the problems with staging it today are considerable. Not only is the soprano lead a massive, and massively demanding, role, but it requires not one but two lead 'Rossini-style' coloratura tenors, plus two other lesser coloratura tenor roles with a fair amount to sing in ensembles. The singing here is remarkably good, considering the difficulties of casting this opera. The conducting is lively and keeps up the interest.

The production is one of those (and there were lots in the 1990s) where the action takes place inside a theatre on a sloping stage. The costumes appear to be loosely 1860s (why? The opera was written in the 1810s). The actions of the characters fit the music reasonably well (there are no extraneous fish or Popes wandering about the stage), but still the production tends to intrude.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Ermione: Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Davis) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
Don't hesitate to buy this recording of a Glyndebourne production which I was lucky enough to see there perhaps twenty years ago. Music, singing, ensemble playing all excellent and staging often innovative and effective.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Performance Despite Ermione's Awful Dress., 31 Mar. 2013
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H. A. Weedon "Mouser" (North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ermione: Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Davis) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
I have one gripe with regard to this production and that is the choice of early Victorian style costumes for the performers. Those designed for the two principle female roles, which had all the appearances of the style of dress that might be worn by a prima donna asked to sing at a BBC promenade concert, were especially inappropriate. I'm not a purist who might suggest that the actors be clad after the fashions of ancient Greece. What I am saying is that, given the time in which the opera was composed, empire line style attire would have been much more appropriate for all of the female performers. Sadly, this golden opportunity was missed and we now have to suffer seeing Ermione herself attired one of the most appallingly designed dresses it has been my misfortune to behold.

Fortunately, the direction, staging, acting and singing of this Glyndebourne production are so brilliantly good that it would be churlish to deduct any stars for inappropriate costume design. The quality of the singing is matched by equally good acting. Both Anna Caterina Antonacci as Ermione and Diana Montague as Andromache could not have performed better. Young Oliver Bridge in the role of Astyanax, son of Andromache, will surely cherish for the rest of his life the times when he was hugged and kissed by the beautiful opera star in the form of his stage mother. It was all so realistically and beautifully performed. Sometimes with operas we have the problem of them being well sung but not so well acted, but there was none of that kind of thing here. What we have here is a dramatically enhanced picture of the kind of day to day emotions witnessed and experienced in the real world and this kind of stage craft is what enables the viewer-listener to empathise so well with what is going on on stage. This is, purely and simply, just another Glyndebourne masterpiece.

You couldn't fault any of the singer-actors. For me they were all equally good. I just got the impression that they all enjoyed working together. One part of the performance that especially delighted me was the bows and arrows chorus of the women hunters singing to try and persuade Ermione to forget her sorrows and go hunting with them. I sometimes think that Rossini refused to accept that music needed to be miserable even when it was depicting misery. All right, here's a great tragedy, but life goes on. There are some great operas that are only just above being doom and gloom disasters ending in death and whose reputation is saved solely by the greatness of the music and singing. Rossini seems not have seen it that way. Even his tragedies end with a strong dose of hope for a better future. This is just a point of view and it would be interesting to learn what other viewers think. Some people might say that this kind of thing is not really reviewing the opera, but I think that how a performance effects people is important.

I found this a good sound recording with clear visuals. However, I'm an easily pleased person who is not in the way of being pernickety concerning these matters. I'm reviewing the operatic performance and not the electronics or whatever you call them. I thoroughly recommend this recording of an all time great performance. Buy, watch and enjoy. Viva Rossini!
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