Cheeky, flirty, knowing and brimming over with delectable music, this has to be the most cheerfully delightful evening on offer this year in a stupendous season for country house opera. Yes, there may be operas with greater depth, but Il Turco is not without its wisdom – in short, the grass is not always greener and truth is stranger than fiction.
With dazzling performances from the soprano Sarah Tynan, fresh from her virtuosic title role in English National Opera's Partenope, as restless, flirtatious wife Fiorilla, and from all around her, this scintillating production will win over anyone resistant to the idea of opera, and soften the heart of the most high-minded music-lover. Tynan, cinched into her come-and-get-me crimson Dior-style new-look dress, eyes widening with joy at the realisation that the fleet's in, turns in a performance to relish at every level.
As her boring-but-steady husband Geronio, baritone Geoffrey Dolton is all comb-over and indignation, while as sexy Selim, the Turkish prince of the title, dropping in on Naples, Dutch baritone Quirijn de Lang is so suave and amusing, slight limitations of vocal range are neither here nor there.
Overseeing the action – literally, from a perch above the seething streets – and occasionally manipulating the characters is Mark Stone as the poet with writer's block, Prosdocimo. This is a role Stone made his own when this production was premiered in 2011. Finding that his Neapolitan neighbours' love lives offer better material than he can dream up himself, the poet, like us, delights in every complication as love and lust entangle, and then engineers a tidy end.
David Parry conducts a gleeful Garsington Opera Orchestra and muscular Chorus, enjoying the allusions to Mozart, whose Così Fan Tutte, an opera Rossini knew, Il Turco at times resembles. The director is Martin Duncan, who does everything to keep the action racing up the fast lane. (Absolutely no Italian stereotyping there, or in this affectionate production, of course...)
Francis O’Connor’s Fifties design lets rip, literally, when Selim's boat comes into port. If it's Italian, it's in the show. If it's in the show, it's a joy. Drop everything and get to Naples prestissimo: it's just outside High Wycombe.
Il Turco in Italia is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Seats are available until 15 July.
|What||Il Turco in Italia review, Garsington Opera|
Wormsley Estate , Stokenchurch, HP14 3YG | MAP
|Nearest tube||Marylebone (underground)|
26 Jun 17 – 15 Jul 17, eight performances, with long dinner interval
|Price||£35 - £200|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|