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on 23 December 2016
Just finished watching, and doubt I ever will again. The singing is sublime, especially from Olga Peretyatko, although Siragusa's voice isn't to my taste, and there is certainly some beautiful music from a very young Rossini. The production is truly dreadful though. For a weak story which barely made sense 200 years ago, it becomes almost incomprehensible in this staging. The gibbering lunatics in the assylum, gyrating, ticking, convulsing, and groping the singers are so distracting it rendered the opera almost impissible to watch for me.
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on 30 December 2012
It is truly wonderful that 29 of Rossini's 37 (not counting revisions) operas are now available on DVD (among composers who wrote more than a dozen operas, only Verdi has a higher proportion of operas available). This is a wonderful state of affairs that no one would have dreamed of even 10 years ago, and this is the latest of his works to join the group. As a great lover of Rossini's music, I am delighted by this new addition. In spite of the fact that this opera was a complete flop at the time; the music seems to me well up to the standard of Rossini's other works and very enjoyable.

It seems clear to me that the reason why this opera flopped was nothing to do with music, and everything to do with a lousy libretto. The initial premise (that the King believed his wife unfaithful on the say-so of the villain, with no evidence, and ordered her execution, yet somehow failed to find out that this high-profile excution never took place and his wife ended up pretending to be the daughter of a random local peasant for fifteen years) is stupid even by operatic standards. The fact that her father, King of a neighbouring country, took 15 years to find out about her 'death' and come to wage war in revenge and the failure of all the characters to explain themselves to one another and their total lack of reasonable motives for most of their actions are even worse, especially in the second act. You get the impression that the characters are trying to avoid sorting out what is going on because someone has told them the opera isn't over yet.

The production is set in a lunatic asylum and involves dozens of supers dressed as the heroine climbing on the furniture, and dozens of supers dressed in rags staring through the windows. It's THAT sort of production, which I personally don't like. If it's your kind of thing, go for it.

The music and singing, at any rate, are excellent.
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