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Rossi Cleopatra

Dimitra Theodossiou,
Alessandro Liberatore,
Paolo Peccholi,
Sebastian Catane,
William Corro,
Tiziana Carrera

Sferisterio Opera Festival Chorus & Orchestra/David Crescenzi

Director, sets & costumes Pier Luigi Pizzi
Film/Davide Mancini
Lighting/Sergio Rossi

Naxos DVD 2.110279 [24-29 July 2008]

Basic and old fashioned at first sight; rudimentary staging with a dozen steps [L] on which the characters are variously deployed, this turns out to be subtle and rewarding; 19 C opera without expensive presentation, as it must have been for some poorer companies at the time.

The box front is colourful (red for Romans) but many scenes are near black, white & grey, taking you back to early filming. But the pluses are many; first the music of this undeservedly near-forgotten opera composer, popular in his time. It is ear catching, with many felicitous melodies and always apt orchestration to relish; very professional, enough to make you want to explore Lauro Rossi further.

David Crescenzi, the chorus master, had stepped in at the very last minute to conduct and does so well (the overture was omitted). The singers are generally adequate to fine, their acting of the stand and deliver (or lie on the floor) type; good voices and commtted delivery. The asp has to be taken on trust during Cleopatra's long death scene...

What brings this old fashioned opera performance to a rather high level on the screen is Pizzi's experience and judgment, with good lighting and camera work, focussing on the singers in middle view or close up, always apt for the moment.

We loved it, and so have reviewers for Music Web.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Image: Lauro Rossi by Z├ęphyrin Belliard