Cecilia Bartoli’s superb performance in Gioachino Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) at Salzburg Festival, directed by the BAFTA-winning stage director duo Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, is a highlight among the Rossini celebrations on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death. Unitel captured Bartoli’s excellent performance in a rare audiovisual recording of the Italian superstar, who is one of the most successful opera singers of our time.
In this vibrant comedy, every look, every hand gesture brings Isabella to life: Bartoli presents the spirited Italian woman with fire, finesse and extraordinary acting abilities – “a Rossini masterclass” (Bachtrack). Her Isabella is a strong, independent woman who has no intentions of accepting the advances of the powerful Mustafà. In the staging by Leiser/Caurier, which plays with preconceived notions about clashing cultures, Mustafà is no longer an Ottoman bey, but a kind of local gangster who smuggles electronics at the port of modern-day Algiers. In the colourful sets of Christian Fenouillat, Ildar Abdrazakov sings the leering macho, looking for a love affair with the beautiful Italian, with delight and “great comic talent” (Salzburger Nachrichten). Edgardo Rocha’s bright tenor climbs up without effort, making his performance as Isabella’s lover Lindoro flowing and highly emotional. Rebeca Olvera sings Elvira, who finally regains her husband’s favour, with ease and beauty, while José Coca Loza’s Haly impresses in his short aria, in which he praises the Italian women. With Alessandro Corbelli as a clumsy Taddeo, laughter is guaranteed. The conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi, showing sensitivity to the intricacies and sparkle of Rossini’s score, leads the excellent Ensemble Matheus in a “beguiling performance” (The New York Times).