There is a long history of Rossini at Glyndebourne, dating back to the 1950s when the great Vittorio Gui delivered so many graceful performances, a good few of which are on record - notably Le Comte Ory, La Cenerentola, and Il barbiere di Siviglia. Over the years Il turco in Italia, L'italiana in Algeri, and La pietra del paragone have also been seen in the house, as well as a single "serious" title, Ermione, in 1995 long after Vittorio Gui had left us. Rossini's most popular opera I suppose is the Barber, and this had not been seen at Glyndebourne for 34 years until last night. So it was time!
Glyndebourne's new production by Annabel Arden had some charming performances by the young German baritone Björn Bürger and as Almaviva young American tenor Taylor Stayton (who was in COT's Mosé in Egitto very early in his career in 2010). The peerless Alessandro Corbelli, Glyndebourne's Dandini in 1985, returned after his recent Pasquale to give us a wholly winning Bartolo. Danielle de Niese, who has delighted audiences world wide with her Handel, Mozart, Monteverdi and Donizetti, undertook her first Rosina - and it was good to hear it for a change with a soprano, especially one as winning a stage performer as Danni.
There was a splendid larger than life Basilio from Christopheros Stamboglis, and a show stopping Berta aria from Janis Kelly. Here was another example of what can be done with small part by a major artist.
Glyndebourne have the good fortune to have an outstanding Rossini (and much else) conductor in Enrique Mazzola - and he is fortunate in having had the superb LPO switching from Wagner on Saturday evening to Rossini with perfect ease. Mazzola's happy smiling demeanor infected the whole evening - just what is needed for Rossini!
I should also mention the debut of a young baritone, the 22 year old Huw Montague Rendall, as Fiorello, with the daunting task of getting the opera off to a fine start. And so he did to his enormous credit. More will be heard of him in the coming years.
So it was a great weekend in Sussex with so many old friends and colleagues. Now I am back in London for the week - and looking forward to a rarity, Enescu's Oedipe, at Covent Garden on Thursday evening.
Photos © Glyndebourne/Bill Cooper