Independent, The,  Aug 4, 2003
Andrew Clarke
Paisiello: Nina, o sia La pazza per amore
Cecilia Bartoli Nina ; Jonas Kaufmann Lindoro ; László Polgár Count ; Juliette Galstian Susanna ; Angelo Veccia Giorgio ; Jonas Kaufmann Shepherd ; Federica Bartoli Peasant Girl Zurich Opera House Chorus; Zurich Opera House Orchestra/Adám Fischer
Far better for them to acquire the new Zurich Opera House recording of Paisiello's rarely seen pre-Pirandellian comedy of 1789, Nina o sia La Pazza per Amore - The Girl Driven Mad by Love - (Arthaus 100366 oooo9), where the diva's OTT personal and vocal mannerisms almost ideally suit her to playing the title-role. The work itself is historically important, as the first serious treatment of insanity on the operatic stage, and its composer was influential, not least on Rossini, whose Barber of Seville was famously booed by fans of Paisiello's earlier version. Musically, it boasts a simple lyrical grace and what is surely the only aria in all opera for a tenor plus bagpipes. It's also well cast, with Laszlo Polgar sonorously sombre as Nina's remorseful father, Jonas Kaufmann pingingly baritonal as her tenor lover, presumed dead. Maddeningly, Nina's insanity seems to have struck the producers of the show, as well as its star, when they allowed her to insert a 12-minute showpiece aria by Mozart (KV272) into the opening act, thus fatally unbalancing the whole musical and dramatic framework and showing up poor Paisiello for what he is not. With Bartoli snapping back into concert-platform mode (complete with on-stage oboe obbligato and music-stand), it's possibly one of the most self-indulgent 12 minutes ever caught on camera.

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