Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Philip Glass's Orphée at English National Opera

Jean Cocteau’s 1950 Orphée - and Philip Glass’s chamber opera based on the film - are so closely intertwined it should not be a surprise that this new production for English National Opera often seems unable to distinguish the two. There is never a shred of ambiguity that cinema and theatre are like mirrors, a recurring feature of this production; and nor is there much doubt that this is as opera noir it gets.

Rapt audience at Dutch National Opera’s riveting Walküre

“Don’t miss this final chance – ever! – to see Die Walküre”, urges the Dutch National Opera website.

Sarah Wegener sings Strauss and Jurowski’s shattering Mahler

A little under a month ago, I reflected on Vladimir Jurowski’s tempi in Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. That willingness to range between extremes, often within the same work, was a very striking feature of this second concert, which also fielded a Mahler symphony - this time the Fifth. But we also had a Wagner prelude and Strauss songs to leave some of us scratching our heads.

Manon Lescaut in San Francisco

Of the San Francisco Opera Manon Lescauts (in past seasons Leontyne Price, Mirella Freni, Karita Mattila among others, all in their full maturity) the latest is Armenian born Parisian finished soprano Lianna Haroutounian in her role debut. And Mme. Haroutounian is surely the finest of them all.

A lukewarm performance of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette from the LSO and Tilson Thomas

A double celebration was the occasion for a packed house at the Barbican: the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s birth, alongside Michael Tilson Thomas’s fifty-year association with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Mahler’s Third Symphony launches Prague Symphony Orchestra's UK tour

The Anvil in Basingstoke was the first location for a strenuous seven-concert UK tour by the Prague Symphony Orchestra - a venue-hopping trip, criss-crossing the country from Hampshire to Wales, with four northern cities and a pit-stop in London spliced between Edinburgh and Nottingham.

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

Predatory power and privilege in WNO's Rigoletto at the Birmingham Hippodrome

At a party hosted by a corrupt and dissolute political leader, wealthy patriarchal predators bask in excess, prowling the room on the hunt for female prey who seem all too eager to trade their sexual favours for the promise of power and patronage. ‘Questa o quella?’ the narcissistic host sings, (this one or that one?), indifferent to which woman he will bed that evening, assured of impunity.

Virginie Verrez captivates in WNO's Carmen at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Jo Davies’ new production of Carmen for Welsh National Opera presents not the exotic Orientalism of nineteenth-century France, nor a tale of the racial ‘Other’, feared and fantasised in equal measure by those whose native land she has infiltrated.

Die Zauberflöte brings mixed delights at the Royal Opera House

When did anyone leave a performance of Mozart’s Singspiel without some serious head scratching?

Haydn's La fedeltà premiata impresses at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

‘Exit, pursued by an octopus.’ The London Underground insignia in the centre of the curtain-drop at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Silk Street Theatre, advised patrons arriving for the performance of Joseph Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata (Fidelity Rewarded, 1780) that their Tube journey had terminated in ‘Arcadia’ - though this was not the pastoral idyll of Polixenes’ Bohemia but a parody of paradise more notable for its amatory anarchy than any utopian harmony.

Van Zweden conducts an unforgettable Walküre at the Concertgebouw

When native son Jaap van Zweden conducts in Amsterdam the house sells out in advance and expectations are high. Last Saturday, he returned to conduct another Wagner opera in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series. The Concertgebouw audience was already cheering the maestro loudly before anyone had played a single note. By the end of this concert version of Die Walküre, the promise implicit in the enthusiastic greeting had been fulfilled. This second installment of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was truly memorable, and not just because of Van Zweden’s imprint.

Purcell for our time: Gabrieli Consort & Players at St John's Smith Square

Passing the competing Union and EU flags on College Green beside the Palace of Westminster on my way to St John’s Smith Square, where Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort & Players were to perform Henry Purcell’s 1691 'dramatic opera' King Arthur, the parallels between England now and England then were all too evident.

The Dallas Opera Cockerel: It’s All Golden

I greatly enjoyed the premiere of The Dallas Opera’s co-production with Santa Fe Opera of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel when it debuted at the latter in the summer festival of 2018.

Luisa Miller at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is featuring Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Philip Glass: Music with Changing Parts - European premiere of revised version

Philip Glass has described Music with Changing Parts as a transitional work, its composition falling between earlier pieces like Music in Fifths and Music in Contrary Motion (both written in 1969), Music in Twelve Parts (1971-4) and the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975). Transition might really mean aberrant or from no-man’s land, because performances of it have become rare since the very early 1980s (though it was heard in London in 2005).

Wexford Festival Opera 2019

The 68th Wexford Festival Opera, which runs until Sunday 3rd November, is bringing past, present and future together in ways which suggest that the Festival is in good health, and will both blossom creatively and stay true to its roots in the years ahead.

Cenerentola, jazzed to the max

Seattle Opera’s current staging of Cenerentola is mostly fun to watch. It is also a great example of how trying too hard to inflate a smallish work to fill a huge auditorium can make fun seem more like work.

Bottesini’s Alì Babà Keeps Them Laughing

On Friday evening October 25, 2019, Opera Southwest opened its 47th season with composer Giovanni Bottesini and librettist Emilio Taddei’s Alì Babà in a version reconstructed from the original manuscript score by Conductor Anthony Barrese.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Brian Stucki as Almaviva and Elizabeth DeShong as Rosina [Photo by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera]
27 Apr 2010

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Arizona Opera

The story of Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) is based on Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’ 1775 play, Le barbier de Séville.

Gioachino Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia

Figaro: Marian Pop (April 23, 25, May 2)/Joshua Hopkins (April 24, May 1); Rosina: Patricia Risley (April 23, 25, May 2)/Elizabeth DeShong (April 24, May 1); Almaviva: Victor Ryan Robertson (April 23, 25, May 2)/Brian Stucki (April 24, May 1); Bartolo: Peter Strummer; Basilio: Kurt Link; Fiorello: John Fulton; Sergeant: John Fulton; Berta: Grace Brooks; Notary: Cameron Schutza. Arizona Opera. Conductor: Joel Revzen. Director: Bernard Uzan.

Above: Brian Stucki as Almaviva and Elizabeth DeShong as Rosina [Photos Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera]

 

It is the first play of a trilogy that includes La folle journée ou Le mariage de Figaro, which was made into the opera Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart, and La mère coupable, which was set by Corigliano as The Ghosts of Versailles. Over the years, various composers of operas and singspiels have used it as the basis of their compositions. Ludwig Benda and Johann André wrote music to it in 1776. Johann Elsperger based a singspiel on it in 1780. Composer Giovanni Paisiello and librettist Giuseppe Petrosellini made Le barbier into an opera and it appeared first in Russian translation at the imperial court of St. Petersburg in 1782.

In 1783, The Barber’s story appeared as Die unnützige Vorsicht, a translation of the subtitle, The Useless Precaution. In 1794, The Spanish Barber by British born composer Alexander Reinagle was sung across the ocean in the brand new United States. It is said to have been a favorite of George Washington. In 1796, Nicolas Isouard, an organist from Malta who had moved to Paris to compose, set the story to music and it was presented at the Opéra Comique. When Rossini and librettist Cesare Sterbini chose that story and premiered their opera in 1816, Paisiello’s fans heckled the performance. At the second performance, however, the audience realized that Rossini’s version was well worth hearing, and from then on it became at least as popular as Paisiello’s work, which was also played for many years.

On April 24, Arizona Opera presented the last opera of its 2009-2010 season, a rousing rendition of Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, at Phoenix Symphony Hall. The traditional production was by Bernard Uzan with detailed and functional sets by David Gano. The costumes by Anna Bjornsdotter were flattering to the artists as well as correct for the time and place. With Artistic Director Joel Revzen in the pit with the excellent Arizona Opera Orchestra, everything was ready for a fine performance. The overture was played with clarity and translucence. It seemed that the players could go as fast as the wind and still play each note precisely.

Unfortunately, after the overture, and while the tenor was singing his most difficult first aria, ushers allowed latecomers into the hall and accompanied them with flashlight beams and whispers.

Tall, good-looking Brian Stucki is a wonderful new coloratura tenor who can sing the most graceful lines of Almaviva’s music in correct style. A good actor, he has all the essentials for comedic timing. As Rosina, Elizabeth DeShong sang with honeyed tones and quite a powerful voice. She also let the audience know from the beginning that she was not about to submissively obey her guardian, Dr Bartolo.

AZ_Barber_6.gifElizabeth DeShong as Rosina, Peter Strummer as Bartolo and Joshua Hopkins as Figaro

This was Joshua Hopkins’s first Figaro, but no one would have known it from his performance. He was an authoritative barber who sang with robust sounds and had both vocal and stage tricks up his sleeve. Bass-baritone Peter Strummer was thoroughly amusing as the self-righteous Dr Bartolo. His slow tones had polish. His patter was understandable and secure. As the conspiratorial Don Basilio, Kurt Link did not wear the traditional hat, but he was a great comic villain whose voice was redolent with colorful deep tones.

Grace Brooks was a Berta who thought both Dr Bartolo and Rosina were crazy. She is still in the AZ Opera Young Artist Program, but she is fast becoming a finished singer and her aria was a delight to hear. Although John Fulton did not have an aria, he portrayed both Fiorello and the Sergeant with thoughtful consideration of their situations.

The all male chorus led by Julian Reed sang with gusto and harmonized accurately. Reed also played the beautifully modulated recitatives on the harpsichord. This was a hilariously funny show and the laughter almost drowned out some of the music, but the Barber is a true comedy and it was good to see it so well appreciated by the Arizona audience.

Maria Nockin

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):