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L’Equivoco Stravagante review at Teatro Rossini Pesaro Italy

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Emilio Sagi’s 2002 staging of L’Equivoco Stravagante (1811) was a stinker. So why revive it? Because two apologists, in their programme notes, press for an urgent reassessment of the librettist Gaetano Gasbarri’s scurrilous, at times surreal, text, universally blamed for the work’s failure and neglect.

However, the 19-year-old Rossini’s score, if not vintage, has memorable moments aplenty, which bring subtlety and depth to character. The ingredients for success exist.

Gasbarri’s plot has a servant duo enable young Ermanno to get his girl Ernestina, the bookish daughter of the bourgeois Gamberotto, who has betrothed her to the preening but wealthy Buralicchio. They convince the latter that Ernestina is a “castrato”.

Sagi updates to c 2002. Gamberotto is a financially successful purveyor of fruit and veg, his warehouse and offices furnished with an expensive, brutalist vulgarity. So why his need to marry off Ernestina wealthily? How explain away the castrato con in a contemporary context?

Worse still, Sagi presents Ernestina, from her first appearance dressed in hideous black plastic, as a sexual predator unlikely to care whom she marries, or beds, so her character cannot evolve and mature.

However, neither the updating nor the change of setting offend so much as the director’s wilful disregard for Rossini’s and Gasbarri’s original. The apologists, of course, have nothing to say about the production.

The travesty staging wastes a fine cast of singers, while indifferent conducting often results in murky textures and a hazardous rapport between pit and stage. A dispiriting evening.

Production Information

Teatro Rossini, Pesaro, Italy, August 11, 14, 17, 22

Composer
Gioachino Rossini
Director
Emilio Sagi
Producer
Rossini Opera Festival
Cast includes
Maria Prudenskaja, Dmitry Korchak, Marco Vinco, Bruno di Simone
Running time
2hrs

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