ROSSINI: La Scala Di Seta

As with Il Signor Bruschino (reviewed recently here), La Scala di Seta retains
some renown for its lively, melodious overture. The rest of the score
doesn’t quite match the opening’s melodic memorableness, but it
certainly reflects Rossini’s early mastery of comic energy.

Beautiful Giulia has married her tutor, Dorvil, in secret, while her
obtuse guardian, Dormont, tries to arrange a “suitable” match with one
Blansac. For the early 19th century, the details make for a “racy”
situation, with the silken ladder of the title providing access for
Dorvil to his wife. When their plans for a midnight assignation are
overheard,  Giulia’s cousin Lucilla steals into the room for an
“education” in romance. Other complications ensue due to Giulia’s
reliance on the house servant, Germano, who at first has the affrontery
to believe that the assistance his mistress requests would be of a more
direct, amatory nature. Meanwhile, Dorvil tries to get Blansac
interested in Lucilla. The inevitable mad scramble of confusion
resolves itself fairly expediently at the climax, and the ladder
becomes an inessential accessory.

Director Michael Hampe allows for some broad comic acting from the
principals; in context, that style suits the material. Costumes are
colorful and immaculatetly clean and pressed (except for the servant’s,
of course). The set, very reminiscent of that used for Il Signor Bruschino,
accommodates all the action handsomely, with the one distinctive touch
being a fascinating replica of an authentic gas chandelier of the era.
The Arc de Triomphe, visible in the painted backdrop, serves as a
reminder that the ostensible setting is France, though the Italianate
flavor of the piece remains dominant.

By far the most interesting part of the opera is the character of
Germano, with a relatively youthful-looking Alessandro Corbelli
relishing his character’s sexual aspirations, as well as
delineating his boredom with his duties and the “superiors” he
works for. Late in the opera Germano gets a genuinely honest emotional
expression of romantic anguish, and as the realest moment in the opera,
the impact just about throws the comedy off balance.

Luciana Serra enjoys her florid music, and David Kuebler, apparently
the resident tenor of this festival, does his usual efficient job. All
other principals sing well for conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti, who makes
a quite goofy appearance himself in the overture, although not clearly
intentionally so. The sound needs more sharpness in that opening,
especially for the wind solos, but once the opera begins, the voices
carry the day anyway.

Once again, as with the others in this series, for those who love
Rossini and want to see some rarer pieces, staged traditionally and
sung by a committed cast, this La Scala di Seta fills that bill.

Chris Mullins
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy

image_description=La Scala Di Seta
product_title=Gioacchino Rossini: La scala di seta
product_by=David Griffith, Luciana Serra, Jane Bunnell, David Kuebler, Alberto Rinaldi, Alessandro Corbelli, Harpsicord and fortepiano: Simone Young. Directed for Stage by Michael Hampe. Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gianluigi Gelmetti, conductor.
product_id=EuroArts 2054978 [DVD]