Rossini, La Gazzetta
I have no idea what I just saw, which in this case is not a bad thing. Even by Rossini‘s standards, his opera La Gazzetta is crazy, which is why it completely disappeared from the repertory for about 150 years (and then only in a partially cobbled-together performance since not all of the manuscript was found). Rossini had recycled music from elsewhere into this opera and used music written for this elsewhere (notably re-purposing the overture for Cenerentola). A proper, more-or-less complete, performing edition was not reconstructed until 2001.
The Salzburg Landestheater pulled it off the shelf this season, and in this performance I just gave up trying to understand the plot, and just enjoyed the complete farce and wonderful music. The director, Alexandra Liedtke, is German, but I nevertheless gave her the benefit of the doubt when deciding to buy a ticket, based on the staging she did of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann in this theater last season – that staging was actually nothing special, but it was not offensive German Regietheater and allowed for quite an intelligently reconstructed version of Offenbach’s own opera with problematic multiple versions.
Liedtke set the staging in around 1960, when the opera – or at least parts of it – was rediscovered. That may indeed have been the only logic for the time period. I don’t know. Rather than trying to clarify what was happening on stage, she augmented the farce. In the sense that the plot is already quite convoluted (I’m having a hard time even finding a good plot summary online that makes any sense at all, and the program book did not even make an attempt – it provided a simplified outline, but even that was not so simple and far more is going on that the outline simply can’t capture), this actually worked. I do not know how much of the plot twist is actually in the original and how much she added (especially the background slapstick that kept involving main characters as well so mixed into the story line), but I suppose it did not really matter.
In the end, it was worth enjoying precisely because it was a complete farce. Oh… and the music. The music was great. The cast (themselves a mishmash – all quite acceptable with no standouts and no problems, several of them having performed here before but mostly not this theater’s repertory casting) clearly had fun on stage. The young Welshman Iwan Davies, the Landestheater’s corepetitor, got to take the podium (apparently substituting for the regular conductor, although no explanation was provided) – and he took a little bit of time to warm into the evening, starting off a bit too square for Rossini, but once warmed up the Mozarteum Orchestra took over with lighthearted playing and appropriate tone.