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Rossini: The Barber of Seville (Highlights) ()

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On paper, this recording of excerpts (including about half of the music from the opera) looks like a dream version of The Barber of Seville: Beverly Sills, Nicolai Gedda, Sherrill Milnes, Renato Capecchi, and Ruggero Raimondi all conducted by James Levine. It's never less than fully professional, but only occasionally catches fire and lifts off with the lightness that characterizes the truly transcendent performances of Rossini comedies. There are portents of things to come in the overture; James Levine leads the London Symphony Orchestra in a perfectly respectable reading -- which is just the problem -- the piece needs a sense of transgressive fun, not respectability. In general, the orchestra seems heavy; the recording was made before conductors were routinely researching the principles of authentic performance practice for works as late as bel canto operas, and a standard modern orchestra sounds too full. This is especially noticeable when it's contrasted with the delicacy of the harpsichord... Hide synopsis

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