I saw the simulcast of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia from the Metropolitan Opera in Albuquerque. It was very fine. The sound was a little loud, but the quality was excellent.
Count Almaviva....Juan Diego Flórez
Dr. Bartolo.............John Del Carlo
Don Basilio.............John Relyea
I hardly know where to start. The acting and general theatrical business was especially well done. Maurizio Benini, the conductor, understood the special qualities of Rossini and got his tempos right.
So I'll start where I want to start. I know John Del Carlo. We were in the same Julius Caesar at Pocket Opera many years ago. He decided on a career as a buffo bass, and has appeared in these types of parts in San Francisco, parts like Don Pasquale and the man in the Marschallin's morning visits. I thought he was good, maybe just OK. For a buffo he has grown in his Fach beyond what I would have imagined. His Dr. Bartolo was very fine indeed. It helped that he actually is the age for a Bartolo. He kept pace in the coloratura with the greatest coloratura tenor I have certainly ever seen. He was wonderfully funny. Adorable even. Bravo.
What could one think to say about Juan Diego Florez? He is king. At the end of the opera they revived the aria "Cessa di piu resistere" just for him. This aria is familiar as the finale of La Cenerentola, but sounds wonderfully different in his voice. He was funny, beautiful, stunning.
Joyce DiDonato, a girl from Kansas, had her hands full competing with the men. My heart did not beat for her. Perhaps I am not destined to love another coloratura mezzo. Don't get the wrong idea. I liked her.
Peter Mattei was good. Juan Diego upstaged him too often.
The big aria brought into Barber for Florez was created for this opera and later cut because the soprano didn't want it, didn't want the tenor competing with her. Later it was inserted into La Cenerentola. Perhaps this is why Angiolina is a mezzo.
Opera, beautiful opera, heart stopping, thrilling, wonderful opera. Gelb is starting at the top.