It took Covent Garden centuries to get round to staging Rossini’s light-hearted homage to Mozart, but when they did – with the directorial team of Moshe Leiser, Patrice Caurier, and Christian Fenouillat – they struck gold: now back in its fourth revival, this Turco is the biggest crowd-pleaser in their repertory.
When the curtain goes up the sun comes out – a picture-postcard seaside framed in bright primary colours, with wicked sight-gags coming thick and fast. Updated to the Italy of La dolce vita with motors and hairdo’s to match, this fanciful and affectionate (attempted) taming of a shrew feels at once preposterous and utterly real. Its coups de theatre keep their magic, no matter how often one sees them.
This time round, with the excellent Evelino Pido in the pit, we have much of the original cast in top form - the swashbuckling Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Barry Banks with his glorious bel canto, and that inimitable farceur Alessandro Corbelli; if Tom Allen as the puppet-master now seems a shade worn, his comic timing clicks in perfectly as the plot takes shape.
And in Aleksandra Kurzak we once again have the Fiorilla of our dreams: suffering from a throat infection when I heard her, she could still charm the birds off the trees.
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