2003-05-10 L'Italiana in Algeri (Rossini), Opernhaus Zurich

Mustafa = Carlo Lepore
Elvira = Christiane Kohl
Zulma = Judith Schmid
Ali = Valeriy Murga
Lindoro = Luigi Petroni
Isabella = Agnes Baltsa
Taddeo = Carlos Chausson

Ralf Weikert, conductor

Inszenierung - Michael Hampe
Regie - Grischa Asagaroff
Bühnenbild und Kostüme - Mauro Pagano
Lichtgestaltung - Jakob Schlossstein
Chor - Jürg Hämmerli
20.00-22.45  L'ITALIANA IN ALGERI (Rossini)
Musikalische Leitung RALF WEIKERT

Pascha, ein AffeTIMO SCHLÜSSEL

I was excited to see Baltsa as Isabella in Zurich in this new
production that I had enjoyed so much on June 15, 2002 with Gloria
Scalchi. This was a weaker cast, although I enjoyed Christiana Kohl
as Elvira, Judith Schmid as Zulma,  Carlos Chausson as Taddeo, Luigi Petroni as Lindoro , Valery Murga as Ali , and even Carlo Lepore as Mustafa was enjoyable. But they seemed not really to possess the kind of voice that Rossini need. Agnes Baltsa was at times a splendid Isabella, vocally a firework, and at all times a fantastic actress.

I don't think she was at her very best in "Cruda sorte", but still very much enjoyable. But I am naturally being a bit unfair to Agnes Baltsa comparing her to the recording of Italiana in Algeri on Deutsche Grammophon with Abbado conducting. But on the other hand when she was introduced to Mustafa "Oh, che muso" was absolutely marvelously sung, even better than the DG recording, live and funny, great sense of humor, I have never heard it better sung by ANYONE. So sad, that
it is not the voice of a Raimondi or a Furlanetto that joins in with her. This Mustafa is funny, but he is vocally thin. Like the Lindoro, who is not like Juan Diego Florez, but with his vocal limits, a
great colleague to Agnes Baltsa, they match, even though Baltsa almost have to go to pianissimo to be close.

The Elvira of the evening was not always at height with situation, but really much better vocally than her male colleagues. Judith Schmid was good in the small role as Zulma. They are still very young, and I hope that they will develope further.

Carlos Chausson as Taddeo, was great, but still Bruno de Simone was much better as Taddeo. Even Chausson can be better. The orchestra gave a lame overture, the conductor Ralf Weikert had difficulty in leading them on. The orchestra played amiably the rest of the opera.

The production, that I had loved in June 2002, was not so wonderful a year later, I think. Maybe because on June 15, 2002 it was just so wonderful to see a new Italiana in a traditional, with beautiful dresses. It was amazing to hear Gloria Scalchi as Isabella, and at the same time already the same evening I was starting to looking forward to see Die Baltsa in the same production. Now, Baltsa did not have the same dress as Scalchi, she was wearing the same in the Jean-Pierre Ponnelle prod. of Italiana in Wiener Staatsoper. That was beautiful too. So maybe that's why I was disappointed, or was it just the ape. The ape that is Mustafa's protege, making many funny things onstage. Part funny, part ruining the concentration of what is going on in the opera, for the audience. The Ape, was like a funny story, that you laugh only the first time it is told, the next time it is a


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