Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory” has had somewhat of a revival in recent years thanks to the influx of great Rossini tenors such as Juan Diego Flórez, Javier Camarena, and Lawrence Brownlee, among others.
The comedy, which premiered on August 20, 1828, was the composer’s final comedy and penultimate work, followed by the dramatic “Guillaume Tell.” As such, it features trademarks of the composer’s oeuvre but also sees him move into more mature and adventurous musical directions.
Short Plot Summary
Countess Adèle is left home alone after her brother and his men head off to battle the Crusades. As a result, Count Ory takes advantage of the situation to try and win her over and disguises himself as a hermit with the intent of offering love advice. His page Isolier admits his love for the Countess and reveals a plan to sneak into the castle.
The countess seeks out the hermit’s advice and upon being told to open her heart to love, she falls for Isolier. Ory’s identity is revealed when he tries to warn the Countess against Isolier.
His plan foiled, Ory and his men gain entrance into the castle disguised as female pilgrims. Ory breaks into Adèle’s bedroom at night but finds himself wooing Isolier instead since he cannot see in the darkness. The men return from the Crusades, Isolier reveals himself and helps Ory escape the castle.
Famous Music Numbers
The opera is filled with Rossini’s infectious music, particularly its opening with the prelude jumping right into the dramatic action without a traditional chorus. The drinking chorus that crops up later is quite fun, but the real gem of the opera is that final trio between the main characters, with Rossini having them take turns at the virtuosic main melody. It is a euphoric demonstration of the great composer’s theatrical ability.
Watch and Listening
Here is a recording from Glyndebourne that works well musically with Marc Laho, Ludovic Tézier, Annick Massis, and Diana Montague in leading roles.
But if you want some fun, make sure to check out the Met’s production which featured superstars Juan Diego Flórez, Diana Damrau, and Joyce DiDonato. Here’s an excerpt.