MUSIC REVIEWS : Early Rossini at the Ford

Rossini wrote "La Scala de Seta" ("The Silken Ladder"), a sparkling farce, when he was 20. It was the third of five comic works he composed for Antonio Cera and the San Moise theater in Venice. Audiences considered the music inferior to "L'Inganno Felice," its immediate predecessor, however, and the opera virtually disappeared from the repertory, although the overture survived as an effervescent concert piece.

The ensembles turned out to be the only sparkling moments in the Los Angeles Music Theatre Company production sung in English on Saturday at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre.

Part of the reason lay in David Anglin's surprisingly slow-paced conducting of the underpowered orchestra. Anglin treated the arias as if they could bear weighty expression. They could not. He generally let pacing falter, although he picked up tempos in the ensembles. He also provided accompaniment for the recitatives on an almost soundless fortepiano.

Yet few of the principals rose to the bel-canto challenges, either. Jessica Siena brought a thin, sweet, sometimes wiry soprano to the central role of Giulia. As her husband incognito, Dorvil, Beau Palmer provided a slender and variable tenor. The secondary lovers, Lucilla and Blansac, were sung capably by Teresa Brown and Michael Daniels. Roberto Perlas Gomez made a vocally smooth and bland servant Germano.

Geoffrey Dunn was credited for the English translation, which was clear, if clumsy and cute in its rhyme patterns. Lin White directed traffic with spiritless efficiency. Ed Brown created the functional set design.

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