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The Rigoletto comes from the Opernhaus Zurich, where it was filmed in 2014 in a new production by the German director Tatjana Gürbaca, and will intrigue or infuriate in equal measure, depending on one’s taste for Regietheater. She sets the plot on a blank black stage containing just one long table which remains in situ throughout, leaving the singers to sink or swim, depending on their theatrical ability. George Petean in the title role presumably suffers from an invisible disability, though how the other protagonists know this remains a mystery. His baritone is rich yet his presence lacks comparable depth. Saimir Pirgu’s ebullient bruiser of a Duke (or local gangster) is curiously better in moments of vocal subtlety, but tonally wayward and unalluring at more extrovert moments. Thankfully Aleksandra Kurzak’s exquisite soprano and touching stage personality marry happily and she shines amidst the gloom. Fabio Luisi’s conducting is elegant and precise, the supporting cast and chorus generally strong, and the production is well filmed.

Les pêcheurs de perles is a complete contrast, in Fabio Sparvoli’s 2012 production from Naples. Bizet’s opera is a patchy affair at best and needs all the help it can get. This showing is both traditional and dull: the singers plod across sand dunes, occasionally locate each other, and even risk the odd eye contact or touch at times. The choreography is clichéd and lacks verve, the chorus oft-unruly, especially the men. Gabriele Ferro makes a better impression in the pit, moulding a careful interpretation. Patrizia Ciofi rises above the non-events surrounding her, with limpid tone and elegant phrasing. Dmitry Korchak almost matches her, but though the spirit is willing the voice is occasionally weak. Dario Solari’s high baritone is impressive, his acting almost non-existent.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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