Italian Dramedy Has More Twists Than Fusilli
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
Rossini’s operatic dramedy Il Turco In Italia embraces all the themes of the stereotypical Italian scandal and is especially heavy on betrayal — delivering a hilariously entertaining lesson in the consequences of love quadrangles.
The Fellini-esque tale — directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier — tells of gypsy girl Zaida (Rachel Kelly), who has recently lost her Turkish love Selim (Ildebrando D’Arcangelo). Selim, meanwhile, meets local beauty and escape artist par excellence Fiorella (Aleksandra Kurzak) and they fall in love much to the chagrin of Fiorella's pathetically doting husband Don Geronio (Alessandro Corbelli), a pot bellied Einstein-alike who can’t stop bemoaning his wife’s infidelity. All the while, poet Prosdiscimo abets and exploits the situation for the purposes of a comic opera he’s been struggling to write.
The second act starts with Geronio repeatedly face-planting himself into a bowl of pasta and what follows is a variation on that idea. The characters' entanglements twirl together like spaghetti and just when the conflicts seem close to resolution, another character is thrown into the mix, keeping the energy high and the audience on their toes.
The production is ‘light’ in all aspects except plot and talent, showcasing vibrant costumes, a minimal set design that evokes sunny splendour, and plenty of breezy (though often sexually suggestive) humour. Kurzak’s majestically pure voice triumphs, though it is Corbelli who wins top plaudits for the best comic role on stage — with Barry Banks playing Don Narcisco in an Elvis-inspired yellow suit coming a very close second.
Despite the minimal choreography and rather long second half, there is ample clever pantomime to keep the audience giggling throughout. By most measures, this doesn't quite rank as one of the great operas, but it nonetheless delivers warm, comic fare at exactly the right time of year.
By Sophia Shluger
Il Turco In Italia runs until at the Royal Opera House April 27. Tickets £7-£163. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 17 April 2015