Friday, November 15, 2013

The Barber of Seville

Rosina receiving her singing lesson

Conductor:  Giuseppe Finzi
Director:  Emilio Sagi

Figaro:  Lucas Meachem (1), Audun Iversen * (2)
Rosina:  Isabel Leonard * (1), Daniela Mack (2)
Count Almaviva:  Javier Camarena * (1),  Alek Shrader (2)
Doctor Bartolo:  Alessandro Corbelli (1), Maurizio Muraro * (2)
Don Basilio:  Andrea Silvestrelli
Berta:  Catherine Cook
Ambrogio:  A.J. Glueckert
Fiorello:  Ao Li
An Officer:  Hadleigh Adams
Notary:  Andrew Truett

I went to the first and second performances of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the San Francisco Opera because I wanted to see both casts.  This is a new production.  This photo of the first scene will give you an idea of how it looks. 

First we are outside Doctor Bartolo's house, then we are in the back garden, and last we are inside the house.  The slanted floor is a kind of door where people and objects enter and exit.  There is dancing that is fully integrated into the action.  There is a storm complete with water.  There is extreme ambiguity about the precise period, but it must be long after Rossini.  The action was very busy, but I found it charming and entertaining.  Berta and Ambrogio, Bartolo's servants, maintained a constant flow of silly, entertaining business.

Perhaps this is the long version which I first saw in Met simulcast where Count Almaviva sings the long aria from La Cenerentola at the end.  The opera used to be performed without it, but perhaps this is now the new standard version.

I felt that the first cast was the more successful, but this was mainly due to the fact that the War Memorial Opera House has somewhat bad acoustics, and they were louder.  One of the primary criteria for a successful opera career is how loud your voice is.  Is this a silly topic?  From the second cast Daniela Mack and Maurizio Muraro were adequately loud.  I apologize for bringing this up.  The loudest person on the stage was probably Andrea Silvestrelli who played Don Basilio in both casts.  He has an incredibly large and resonant bass voice.  I would like to hear more of him.

I was charmed.  I felt lucky to hear Javier Camarena whom I saw in Paris with Natalie Dessay.  He was making his San Francisco Opera debut.  As was Isabel Leonard who appeared here recently in recital at the San Francisco Conservatory.

It was fun.  Sometimes this opera takes a somewhat gloomy turn but that did not happen here.  I yelled a lot.  Bravissimi tutti.

Forgive me for not reviewing them separately.

1 comment:

Dr.B said...

Comment from email:

Enjoyed Thursday’s Barber—especially the dancing (they were doing Sevillianas, mainly, kind of Andalucia’s answer to the minuete—which is what people would dance at a party in Sevilla in real life...).