|'Le Comte Ory'|
Cecilia Bartoli is a very big name in opera,and I was thrilled to bits to be able to snaffle a ticket to this performance: second balcony, great sound, somewhat restricted view - had to lean forward to see the stage, but it was front row. We all leant together. Especially when Cecilia made her highly anticipated entrance. She has sold 8 million CDs and clocked 100 weeks ranking in the international music charts. Her voice is considered a mezzo, but she can also sing soprano roles - it is a very unusual voice. She has a quite incredible coloratura technique that is stunning once she gets going. She is sometimes called 'The Queen of Agility'. She also sang very movingly and lyrically during the first Act. It was one of those religious moments in the theatre.
And all of this was in an opera with one of the silliest story lines in an art form known for them. My Program is principally in German, but I can give you a summary of the synopsis:
The original story is set in medieval times, since the men are away at the Crusades. However, in this production we're updated to the mid-Forties, and the Count is occupying a caravan. The Countess Adele (Cecilia Bartoli) is strangely melancholy and comes to consult the 'hermit'. Her brother is off at the war, and she has taken a vow of chastity, along with the other women, until the men come back. They've been away for five years. No wonder the women are depressed. The Count does his best to solve this little problem, and the inside of his caravan is revealed to us as a leopard-skin and red plush boudoir.
At first, the Countess is cheered up by being released from her vow of chastity, and turns rather gleefully to the young page Isolier (the trouser role). The 'hermit', who wants her for himself, is a bit annoyed.
Somewhat amazing, on searching You Tube I found the following clip which seems to be a promo for the actual Zurich production that I saw (the voice over is in German although there is some English commentary later on). But you can see what the set was like.