Timed perfectly to coincide with the opening night of Rossini's Otello in Paris, my DVDs of Le Comte Ory and Otello from Zurich (that is the Opera Awards winning Zurich Opera) have arrived. Since I saw Otello stream on medici.tv, I am watching Ory first.
Conductor: Muhai Tang
Production: Moshe Leiser & Patrice Caurier (they are growing on me)
Le Comte Ory: Javier Camerena
La Comtesse Adele: Cecilia Bartoli
Isolier (Ory's page): Rebeca Olvera (Adalgisa in Cecilia's Norma at Salzburg)
Ragonde (La Comtesse's companion): Liliana Nikiteanu
Le Gouverneur (Ory's tutor): Ugo Guagliardo
Raimbaud (Ory's co-conspirator): Oliver Widmer
The opera begins with Ory and his assistant Raimbaud brushing their teeth in flip flops and shorts. Then they go into the trailer and Ory changes into his outfit as a blind hermit who lures young women. The men of the town are away on crusade and have left a token force at home to guard the women. Cough, cough.
I notice I said that Florez did not get an aria at the Met, but here Camarena opens the opera with a lovely aria which he sings in his blind hermit outfit.
Cecilia drives up to visit Ory in a blue Peugeot, called an Ente when I lived in Germany. I have been searching diligently for a photo of Cecilia in her entrance outfit, in vain. She has her hair back, steel rim glasses, a fancy collar, white pearl earrings, a dark suit, a handbag and a pair of white gloves, in every way the perfect woman of 1959. I love this. Rebeca Olvera in her soldier's outfit as Isolier is also adorable. This is as close as I could get.
I find the plot much easier to follow here, and less offensive for some reason. Perhaps hanky panky among the moderns seems better. It actually seems funny. Camarena plays everything straight which makes him seem less slimy. Pardon me. I hated the Met version, didn't laugh even once.
In the castle the women are holding up a picture of Charles de Gaulle who was president of France from 1959 to 1969. We may presume that the husbands are off fighting in Algeria. I was ready to throw this opera out on its ass, but this is charming. Bartoli and Camarena are marvelous in French, very suave and cute. Musically it could not be more sweet and graceful. This is, of course, the new critical edition, and the Met used the old souped up romantic edition. I am in danger of becoming a convert. Perhaps this lightness and graceful subtlety is due at least in part to the lighter orchestration obvious here. The orchestra is La Scintilla.
The staging of the bedroom trio was also very much superior. It is clear here that Isolier and the Countess are conspiring against Ory. They exchange clothing, and Isolier places the Countess lovingly on the floor where it is presumed a mere page would lie. There is no ambiguity about what is going on.
Everything is staged and sung, and indeed played to perfection. If you want an Ory, try this one.
And now the prompter has crawled out of his hole in the floor and is receiving a bow. That generally means his services were needed. He faces upstage until one of the actors turns him toward the audience.
Try Presto Classical for early releases of classical material. If you doubted my psychic abilities, please review this post from 2012.