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Saturday: August 1, 2009

A Stereotypical Canadian in Rossini

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:45 PM GMT-0500

Yesterday I saw for the first time Rossini’s first opera, the one-act farce La Cambiale di Matrimonio (The Bill of Marriage). It is set in England, and the most amusing character is the Canadian Slook, who has crossed the Atlantic to pick up his mail-order bride. The DVD version I saw, directed by Michael Hampe and conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti, puts Slook (Alberto Rinaldi) in a delightfully primitive Canadian costume. He arrives on a cold day dressed in furs and carrying a gun in one hand and a pair of peacepipes in the other:

Once inside he takes off his fur coat and hat to reveal a buckskin jacket with fringes, plaid shirt, and something that looks like a more elaborate version of a bolo tie:

How much of the costume is implied in Rossini’s score (1810) and how much is the director’s idea (1989) I do not know. I can heartily recommend the recording, which is well-sung, well-acted, and pleasingly free of Eurotrash pretensions. It is included in a very reasonably-priced box set of four early one-act operas. I bought it for $20.99 a few days ago, though the current low price on Amazon Marketplace is $24.25 new. Not bad for four delightful works in one package. On the other hand, the picture of the composer on the box may deter some buyers.