In the "making of" feature (which I watched first), the Sovrintendente of the Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro says that their aim was not to put on a "normal" production of L'Italiana in Algeri, but something experimental and festival-worthy. That led me to expect some sort of wild and wacky production and I was therefore relieved to find that although the action is updated to the 60s/70s, the story is otherwise presented pretty much as Rossini intended.
Director Davide Livermore claims to have taken his inspiration from the comedies of Blake Edwards - eg the Pink Panther series, although there are also a lot of references to the earlier Bond movies and even possibly the original Avengers. It's certainly all very stylish and attractive to look at.
Musically, it's excellent. Anna Goryachova is totally convincing as Isabella. She sings superbly, and also has the personality, looks and figure (which we see quite a lot of!) to make it convincing that all the men fall in love/lust with her - and also that she will succeed in tying them all around her little finger. Alex Esposito as Mustafa, an oil-rich tyrant with a fondness for shooting servants on a whim, is also brilliant, and we see quite a lot of HIS figure as well. Yijie Shi sings well as Lindoro with his bright clear tenor, but he doesn't have quite the same level of charisma as the other two leads, so doesn't make as much impact as he might. One suspects that Isabella would eat him for breakfast. The other roles are all very well taken.
The orchestra play very well for conductor Jose Ramon Encinar, with generally bright and lively tempi. The chorus seem to sing well, but I think that there might have been a problem with the way that they were recorded as their sound often seems to be somewhat muffled, and they're frequently drowned out in the ensemble passages. Another small negative is that the production has quite a lot of peripheral comic business going on, but the Video Director doesn't really let us see it properly, which is a bit disappointing.
Sound and pictures are both superb. Technical details: 24-bit LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.
All in all however, a very stylish and entertaining release.
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