Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Bedřich Smetana: Dalibor, Barbican Hall

Jiří Bělohlávek’s annual Czech opera series at the Barbican, London, with the BBC SO continued with Bedřich Smetana’s Dalibor.

Orlando Explores Art Without Boundaries

R.B. Schlather’s production of Handel’s Orlando asks the enigmatic question: Where do the boundaries of performance art begin, and where do they end?

The Virtues of Things

A good number of recent shorter operas, particularly those performed in this country, made a stronger impression with their libretti than their scores.

Król Roger, Royal Opera

It has taken almost 89 years for Karol Szymanowski’s Król Roger to reach the stage of Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera Celebrates 50 Years of Great Singing

San Diego Opera, the company that General Manager Ian Campbell had scheduled for demolition, proved that it is alive and singing as beautifully as ever. Its 2015 season was cut back slightly and management has become a bit leaner, but the company celebrated its fiftieth season in fine style with a concert that included many of the greatest arias ever written.

Hercules vs Vampires: Film Becomes Opera!

In the early sixties, Italian film director Mario Bava was making pictures with male body builders whose well oiled physiques appeared spectacular on the screen.

Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine

Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France

J. C. Bach: Adriano in Siria

At this start of the year, Classical Opera embarked upon an ambitious project. MOZART 250 will see the company devote part of its programme each season during the next 27 years to exploring the music by Mozart and his contemporaries which was being written and performed exactly 250 years previously.

Bethan Langford, Wigmore Hall

The Concordia Foundation was founded in the early 1990s by international singer and broadcaster Gillian Humphreys, out of her ‘real concern for building bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts’.

Tansy Davies: Between Worlds (world premiere)

An opera dealing with — or at least claiming to deal with — the events of 11 September 2001? I suppose it had to come, but that does not necessarily make it any more necessary.

Arizona Opera Ends Season in Fine Style with Fille du Régiment

On April 10, 2015, Arizona Opera ended its season with La Fille du Régiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall. A passionate Marie, Susannah Biller was a veritable energizer bunny onstage. Her voice is bright and flexible with a good bloom on top and a tiny bit of steel in it. Having created an exciting character, she sang with agility as well as passion.

Il turco in Italia, Royal Opera

This second revival of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s 2005 production of Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia seems to have every going for it: excellent principals comprising experienced old-hands and exciting new voices, infinite gags and japes, and the visual éclat of Agostino Cavalca’s colour-bursting costumes and Christian Fenouillat’s sunny sets which evoke the style, glamour and ease of La Dolce Vita.

The Siege of Calais
——
The Wild Man of the West Indies

English Touring Opera’s 2015 Spring Tour is audacious and thought-provoking. Alongside La Bohème the company have programmed a revival of their acclaimed 2013 production of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais) and the composer’s equally rare The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo).

The Met’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Mary Zimmerman’s still-fresh production is made fresher still by Shagimuratova’s glimmering voice, but the acting disappoints

Voices, voices in space, and spaces: Thoughts on 50 years of Meredith Monk

When WNYC’s John Schaefer introduced Meredith Monk’s beloved Panda Chant II, which concluded the four-and-a-half hour Meredith Monk & Friends celebration at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, he described it as “an expression of joy and musicality” before lamenting the fact that playing it on his radio show could never quite compete with a live performance.

St. John Passion by Soli Deo Gloria, Chicago

This year’s concert of the Chicago Bach Project, under the aegis of the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation, was a presentation of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Fedora in Genoa

It is not an everyday opera. It is an opera that illuminates a larger verismo history.

The Marriage of Figaro, LA Opera

On March 26, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The Ian Judge production featured jewel-colored box sets by Tim Goodchild that threw the voices out into the hall. Only for the finale did the set open up on to a garden that filled the whole stage and at the very end featured actual fireworks.

The Tempest Songbook, Gotham Chamber Opera

Gotham Chamber Opera’s latest project, The Tempest Songbook, continues to explore the possibilities of unconventional spaces and unconventional programs that the company has made its hallmark. The results were musically and theatrically thought-provoking, and left me wanting more.

San Diego Opera presents Adams’ Riveting Nixon in China

Nixon in China is a three-act opera with a libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams that was first seen at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987. It was the first of a notable line of operas by the composer.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Gioacchino Rossini:Il Barbiere di Siviglia
21 Nov 2008

Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Opera House Zürich

This 2001 Zürich performance of Rossini's masterpiece Il Barbiere di Siviglia boasts one of the final performances of the great bass Nicolai Ghiaurov, who passed away in 2004.

Gioacchino Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Vesselina Kasarova, Manuel Lanza, Reinaldo Macias, Carlos Chausson, Orchestra and Choir Opera House Zurich. Nello Santi, conductor. Directed for stage by Grischa Asagaroff.

EuroArts 20 5124 9 [2DVDs]

$27.99  Click to buy

Don Basilio turns out to be a good fit for an artist once so formidable in the darker roles of the operatic literature. His late-career voice has a gruffness that lends itself well to caricature, which is about all this particular production seems suited for.

Luigi Perego designed, for director Grischa Asagaroff, a revolving platform of three sections, all built from oversized versions of a Spanish lady’s fan. Just to make sure we haven’t missed the point, the scrim is also in the shape of a fan. The time has been bumped up to the early-20th century, with Figaro arriving in a tandem motorcycle, and the men of the chorus apparently fresh from some sort of fashion show for hats: there are fedoras, berets, and Italian straw boaters. It is all considerably clever, fairly attractive - and ultimately, dramatically irrelevant. The entire production comes across as over-designed, over-directed, and under-inspired. Take a look at the Metropolitan Opera’s recent Barbiere, one of the productions from the first year of the movie theater filmcasts, to see a production with plenty of ideas that still manages to feel alive and fresh.

An able cast plays along, but no one really has the charisma to charge the evening with some excitement. Vesselina Kasarova sings a sexy Rosina, with smoothly purred low notes and creditable high ones. Despite being a very attractive lady, she is strangely uninvolving on stage. It doesn’t help matters that she has more spark with her Figaro, a decent Manual Lanza, than with her Almaviva, the bland Reinaldo Macias. At final curtain, Carlos Chausson earns a sizeable ovation to an audience grateful for his solid delivery of a comically wicked Bartolo, for once almost a creditable suitor for his ward Rosina.

But it is Elizabeth Rae Magnuson, as the put-upon maid-servant Berta, who stands out, appealing in her acting and singing with sweet clarity. If only conductor Nello Santi had conducted the music to her big number with a bit more urgency.

EuroArts stretches the opera onto two discs, probably unnecessarily. For once, the subtitles appear to be not only error-free, but admirably natural and communicative.

If OperaToday readers are looking for a contemporary version of Barbiere, once more, the recent Met version with Florez, Mattei, and Di Donato can be highly recommended.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):