Though GIOACCHINO Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri is riddled with anachronistic references and repetition, Seattle Opera revivifies the 1813 comedy by giving its goofy story a stylish Technicolor makeover.

L'Italiana begins with a shipwreck in Algiers, updated to a 1920's monoplane—a flaming model plane on wires—that crashes during the overture. Mustafà, the Bey of Algiers, (Simone Alberghini) is bored with his predictably submissive harem—especially his wife, Elvira (sung to desperate, hollow perfection by Sally Wolf). Mustafà desires a real conquest: an Italian girl! He captures the recently crashed Isabella (Stephanie Blythe)—here a fiery Amelia Earhart—who comes to rule the palace with her wit, earthiness, and erotic charm. When she spots her true love, Lindoro (William Burden), enslaved to Mustafà, she sets a scheme in motion that frees the palace slaves, reunites the overwhelmed Bey with his wife, and returns (via hot air balloon!) to Italy.

Director Chris Alexander offers the customary sight gags, but his most affecting setting—Isabella changing behind a screen before seducing Mustafà—also shows Blythe at her best; while undressing she sings a ravishing "Per lui che adoro," an invocation of the Mother of Love. She owns the stage with a voluptuous tone to match her confident and sexy characterization; she has total command over the florid writing and is the only singer with an authentic trill. Burden’s Lindoro sounds youthful and easy—he doesn’t belabor the rapid passages and manages exquisite softness in his first act cavatina. Though Alberghini's affected bass sometimes obscures pitches, he brilliantly tackles a triplet-filled bravura aria during a hilarious calisthenics routine—boxing, stretches, and jump rope. Only Earle Patriarco as Isabella's chaperone, Taddeo, fully captures the spirit of the buffo style, with clean diction and rhythmic nuance in both his singing and his gestures. Besides some antagonistic tempi and balance problems in the patter ensembles, conductor Edoardo Muller keeps the orchestra at an appropriately conversational level.