Opera Bites: 'Le Comte Ory' a funny, sexy show

Friday, April 8, 2011
From left, Stephan Degout as Raimbaud, Michele Pertusi as The Tutor and Juan Diego Florez as Count Ory are shown during the final dress rehearsal of Rossini's "Le Comte Ory" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York's Lincoln Center. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

On Saturday, the high-definition broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera will be Gioacchino Rossini's "Le Comte Ory." The performance will begin at noon at the AMC Town Plaza 5 in Cape Girardeau. The spectacular tenor Juan Diego Florez will sing the title role. Soprano Diana Damrau will be the Countess and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sings the role of Isolier, Ory's young male page.

This is the second-to-last opera Rossini composed, and it premiered in Paris in 1828. The action takes place in France in the year 1200. The brother of the Countess Adele has left for the Crusades. Count Ory, a young and licentious troublemaker, decides to disguise himself as a hermit and hang around Adele's castle. He is in love with her. It then turns out that Adele is going to consult this so-called hermit about her melancholy. He advises her to have a love affair. Unfortunately for him, his tutor realizes who he is and the countess and her ladies are horrified.

In the second act, the ladies are trying to figure out what to do about Ory. When a storm breaks, a group of pilgrim women show up outside the castle and asks for help. They are, however, the count and his men disguised as nuns. Ory's page then tells the countess that the crusaders are about to return home. He then decides to play a joke on his boss. He hides in the countess' bedroom and when Ory enters, he tries to make love to the person in the bed. The crusaders return and Ory realizes that he has been caught. His only option is to escape.

In his book, The Bel Canto Operas, Charles Osborne has this to say about this opera: "'Le Comte Ory' is one of Rossini's finest comic operas. It is in a style that might be said to have initiated the genre of French operetta. This is an opera that looks back to Mozart and forward to Offenbach."

"Le Comte Ory" is funny and very sexy, and the performers for this production are some of the best on the operatic stage today. It should be a delicious performance.

Barbara Herbert is an opera lover and host of KRCU's "Sunday Night at the Opera."

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