Torvaldo e Dorliska – ROF 2017

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Here we are at ROF again! I adore Pesaro, even if it’s only my second year, I feel absolutely at home here. Torvaldo e Dorliska is one of the lesser known operas by Rossini, and it contains a lot of music already heard in other operas. The story is set in medieval times. The two protagonists are in love, they just got married, when an evil duke, the feudal lord of the area, ambushes them, kills the husband (or so he thinks) and tries to kidnap the wife, whom he lusts after. Dorliska ends up in the evil duke’s castle, Torvaldo arrives, the duke imprisons him and blackmails Dorliska (if you are nice to me, I will spare his life). The opera ends with the people revolting against the duke, asking for a generic unspecified King’s intervention, and the lovers reunited in the customary happy end.

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The production by Mario Martone was in traditional costumes, for once! Thank you! The scene was spread out over the whole theatre, with movable stairs coming down from the boxes into the orchestra stalls, singers roaming in the theatre while singing, it was exciting and effective, I thought. It did detract from the ensemble, during the concertati, because some singers were very close, and others very far, but it did give one thee opportunity to observe some of the singers VERY up close, and that was really interesting.

The Orchestra Sinfonica G. Rossini did a very good job, and I liked the direction of Francesco Lanzillotta. Fast, brilliant, light, great during the ensembles. In general, the musical production was excellent, in every department, carried through by true Rossini specialists.

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Carlo Lepore (Giorgio) and Nicola Alaimo (Duca d’Orlow)

Dorliska was Salome Jicia, already heard last year here in Pesaro as Elena in La donna del lago. She was the weak link in the production: her voice is beautiful, her coloratura is crisp and shining and she has elegance and style, but she’s not a soprano! I don’t understand why they casted a mezzo in this role, she was seriously strained. Some of her high notes were definitely tight, close to shrieking, and in the concertati, where the soprano has the highest notes, of course, fast and furious, picchiettato, she was at the limit of her range (as I was saying before, I had the chance of hearing her VERY close, in one occasion). She knows how to sing, so she did it well: she lightened the sound, she sang on the breath, but she was dying up there. I don’t understand.

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Nicola Alaimo (Duca d’Orlow) e Salome Jicia (Dorliska)

Torvaldo was Dmitry Korchak, who I was hearing for the first time. I had heard him in recordings, screaming like a madman, so I had very low expectations, and instead I was pleasantly surprised! His voice is not the most beautiful of them all, but he sang with elegance and lightness, which I really did not expect. He has very easy high notes, and a good coloratura. Who’d have thunk?

The star of the evening was Nicola Alaimo, as the evil Duca d’Orlow. I have already had a chance to admire him as Don Bartolo in The barber of Seville, in Paris, he’s really amazing. His voice is warm and smooth, with a near-perfect coloratura, great dynamics, and he’s just great at portraying the abusive bully. His gigantic physique is an obvious help, but his psychological characterization is absolutely wonderful. He has tender moments, he clearly thinks that he is in love with Dorliska, but he just cannot stand any opposition to his will, and uses all sorts of prevarications to reach his goals. He is extremely charismatic and fills the stage, in every sense of the word.

Carlo Lepore was Giorgio, the duke’s servant who tries to help the two unfortunate lovers and organizes the revolt against the duke himself, a sort of Leporello character. His bass is thunderous and stylish at the same time, and he has the right comical accent for such a part. He had his left arm in a period leather sling, and used this injury as a theatrical expedient. A very good interpretation and a very nice voice.

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Giorgio stirs up the revolt

Giorgio’s sister, Carlotta, was Raffaella Lupinacci, a very dark and pleasant voice, with extremely good high notes! She is worthy of a more substantial Rossini role, I hope to see her as a protagonist soon.

Filippo Fontana sung the role of Ormondo, the chief of the Duke’s guard; he has only one aria, where he reaches for a succulent pear and falls from the tree: a sort of cautionary tale for ambitious people who reach too high (the Duke, of course). His voice was maybe not too exciting, but the intention was correct, and he managed to sing while hanging head down from the tree, so he deserved the applause he got!

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