I do consider La Gazza Ladra(The Thieving Magpie) an underrated opera. The music is wonderful, with the best known part being the justifiably famous Overture(second only to William Tell in my opinion as the best of Rossini's overtures). The story has its moments, but is overall a little old-fashioned and silly. This production is very good though, I can understand why some may prefer a more sumptuous look to the production, here it is rather stark. But in the production's defence I think they were emphasising more on the darker side of the story of the opera. The costumes are rather drab for my tastes especially with Pedesta and Fernando, attired in browns and blacks. The technical parts of the DVD are far better than that of the 1984 production, the latter is(a little) better in terms of suitability to Rossini's music and the production values, but with the quality of especially the sound this production to me is far superior. Whatever reservations I have over some of the production values, I cannot deny the superb musicality that went into this production. The orchestra under the devoted hand of Lu Jia play stylishly and sensitively. Of the cast, the only disappointment was Dmitry Korchak, I don't know whether it was an off night or the wrong role, but he sounded strained and tinny here. On the plus side, he is sympathetic and genuinely concerned. Everyone else though fares much better. Mariola Cantarero portrays Ninnetta with the necessary nobility and pathos, Alex Esposito is a splendidly-characterised and sung father figure, like Korchak's Gianetto he brings sympathy and benevolence to his role, and Michele Pertusi's Pedesta is wonderfully malevolent, though perhaps a tad thuggish in physique, with the appropriate vocal prowess. Manuela Custer's Pippo blends beautifully with Cantarero, and Paolo Bordogna is a grumbling and sometimes amusing Fabrizio. The other smaller roles of Lucia, Antonio and Isaaco are equally first-class. All in all, interesting. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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