Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Wigmore Hall

Commenting on her recent, highly acclaimed CD release of late-nineteenth-century song, Chansons Perpétuelles (Naive: V5355), Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux remarked ‘it’s that intimate side that interests me … I wanted to emphasise the genuinely embodied, physical side of the sensuality [in Fauré]’.

Eine florentinische Tragödie and I pagliacci in Monte-Carlo

An evening of strange-bedfellow one-acts in high-concept stagings, mindbogglingly delightful.

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes.

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, ENO

Although the English National Opera has been decidedly sparing with its Wagner for quite some time now, its recent track record, leaving aside a disastrous Ring, has perhaps been better than that at Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera.

Tosca at Chicago Lyric

In a production first seen in Houston several years ago, and now revised by its director John Caird, Puccini’s Tosca has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago with two casts, partially different, scheduled into March of the present season.

Henri Dutilleux: Correspondances

Henri Dutilleux’s music has its devotees. I am yet to join their ranks, but had no reason to think this was not an admirable performance of his song-cycle Correspondances.

LA Opera Revives The Ghosts of Versailles

In 1980, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned composer John Corigliano to write an opera celebrating the company’s one-hundredth anniversary. It was to be ready in 1983.

La Traviata, ENO

English National Opera’s revival of Peter Konwitschny’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata had many elements in common with the production’s original outing in 2013 (The production was a co-production with Opera Graz, where it had debuted in 2011).

Idomeneo in Lyon

You might believe you could go to an opera and take in what you see at face value. But if you did that just now in Lyon you would have had no idea what was going on.

Der fliegende Holländer, Royal Opera

I wonder whether we need a new way of thinking — and talking — about operatic ‘revivals’. Perhaps the term is more meaningful when it comes to works that have been dead and buried for years, before being rediscovered by subsequent generations.

Iphigénie en Tauride in Geneva

Hopefully this brilliant new production of Iphigénie en Tauride from the Grand Théâtre de Genève will find its way to the new world now that Gluck’s masterpiece has been introduced to American audiences.

Tristan et Isolde in Toulouse

Tristan first appeared on the stage of the Théâtre du Capitole in 1928, sung in French, the same language that served its 1942 production even with Wehrmacht tanks parked in front of the opera house.

Arizona Opera presents Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

Arizona Opera presented Eugene Onegin during and 1999-2000 season and again on February 1 of this year as part of the 2014-2015 season. In this country Onegin is not a crowd pleaser like La Bohème or Carmen, but its story is believable and its music melodic and memorable. Just hum the beginning of the “Polonaise” and your friends will know the music, if not where it comes from.

Ernst Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen, Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles at the Wigmore Hall in Ernst Krenek’s Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen. Matthias Goerne has called Hanns Eisler’s Hollywooder Liederbuch the Winterreise of the 20th century. Boesch and Vignoles showed how Krenek’s Reisebuch is a journey of discovery into identity at an era of extreme social change. It is a parable, indeed, of modern times.

Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new Anna Bolena, a production shared with Minnesota Opera, features a distinguished cast including several notable premieres.

San Diego Celebrates 50th Year with La Bohème

On Tuesday January 27, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme. It is the opera with which the company opened in 1965 and a work that the company has faithfully performed every five years since then.

English Pocket Opera Company: Verdi’s Macbeth

Last year we tracked Orfeo on his desperate search for his lost Euridice, through the labyrinths and studio spaces of Central St Martin’s; this year we were plunged into Macbeth’s tragic pursuit of power in the bare blackness of the CSM’s Platform Theatre.

Béla Bartók: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók’s only opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, composed in 1911 and based upon a libretto by the Hungarian writer Béla Balázs, was not initially a success.

Katia Kabanova in Toulon

Káťa Kabanová is, they say, Janáček's first mature opera — it comes a mere 20 years after his masterpiece, Jenůfa.

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):