This is the only opera in which there is an aria sung to the bagpipes. Normally I hate the sound of dreary bagpipes, but the small, simple bagpipes that accompany Jonas Kaufmann as un pastore are, in this production, sublime.
Paisiello wrote over a hundred operas. Nina, o sia La Pazza Per Amore (crazy with love) is the only one I have seen—–watched tonight to a bottle of good brandy—the benefits of DVDs and expensive sound systems. And with Cecilia Bartoli and Jonas Kaufmann in the lead roles, it simply cannot be better, for they are surely in the greats of current opera singers.
Just today from Amazon.com I put in an advance order for Celcelia Bartoli’s newest CD, Mission. Alas, through, I can no long languish in love with Cecelia Bartoli, for she is recently married to Oliver Widmer, another opera singer of note.
Paisiello’s music is elegant & intelligent: simple & complex: direct & unadorned; conveying of the emotion of the drama and foot-thumping at the same time. No wonder Rossini loved his music and kings and commoners enjoyed it. Why have we lost it? Are we too enamoured of the complex and pretentious?
The opera is neither buffa nor comique. Rather it is the product of the Enlightenment, where madness is but a deviation from the normal, or a natural response to tragedy, or parental disobedience. The story is simple: Nina goes mad when she sees her promised spouse killed. We explore her distress, and the depression of her father who is to blame (as all parents are to blame for everything, if art is to be believed.) Then the beloved reappears and has to persuade her from madness. Not a great story or great drama. But then who cares when the singers are Bartoli and Kaufmann? Both are skilled actors, superb singers, convincing artists, and good to look at drunk.
This is the high point of DVD opera. We could never see this at the local opera house that is forced to put on the popular and crowd-pleasing. No problem with that; I have blogged about too many great evenings watching the conventional stock of opera in the local theater or movie house. But to sit with brandy and a DVD of such great singers and opera is one of those rare pleasures that is the outcome of the modern age. Esto Perpetua.