Improvisation in opera has rarely been more effective...
Il Barbiere Di Siviglia is my personal favourite Rossini opera, though I love La Cenerentola and William Tell just as much. The music, story and characters really ignite in one entertaining opera. As for this performance from the Royal Opera House I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is not my favourite production, Ponnelle's film is my favourite, followed by the 1959, 1988, 1989 and 2005 productions. And I don't think it is a perfect performance either. The sets are rather spare for my liking, and I didn't care for the idea to have Berta drunk and dismantling the piano to the sound of the thunderclaps in the storm scene, it just didn't add anything.
That said, I did think the costumes were very colourful, Bartolo's comb-over especially is hilariously exaggerated but it works, and the staging, with the cast members improvising to impeccable effect to accommodate poor Joyce DiDonato's broken leg injury, is never dull. The orchestral playing is stylish and energetic, right from their performance of the overture which is just extraordinary to the ending. Antonio Pappano's conducting very Italianate conducting suits the music well, it is a very crisp and musical reading, love the quirky rubatos, overall with a very enigmatic buffo nature.
All the performances are right on. Juan Diego Florez is just astonishing. This is the third time, one was for the Met and the other for Madrid, and all three times it was Almaviva who stole the show. Florez's effortless top notes and agile technique still continues to amaze, as well as his charming and witty musicality. The runs and ornamentations that pepper his music really from Florez sound as though they come naturally to him. Joyce DiDonato I wish to commend for her courage for performing the way she did as Rosina after her injury. Of course she does sing from a wheelchair which handicaps anything physical on stage, but she does show some great character just by her face and gestures. Her beautiful voice and great technique are also much to admire.
Pietro Spagnoli is a lively and quite charming Figaro, playing him as a seasoned rogue with a generous instinct rather than the more sly approach adopted by the likes of Gino Quillico and Leo Nucci, which did work well within the concept. He doesn't have the most colourful of voices but it is a sturdy one. He sings Largo Al Factotum very well, actually relishing the tongue-twisters that are the famous Rossini pattering. though part of you wishes that you did see more of Figaro's occupation during the aria like you did in Madrid. Jennifer Rhys-Davies is an exquisite Berta. Berta is a character that I normally find forgettable, but Rhys-Davies sings with much confidence and I hope to see more of her. Changhan Lim proved to be a promising Fiorello.
Alessandro Corbelli's Bartoli is marvellous. Corbelli always did have wonderful comic timing, and here he is menacing and hilarious. Yet he adopts a more human approach also, which thankfully makes Bartolo less of a buffoon. His Italian diction is superb and very carefully enunciated in Un Dottor Della Mia Sorte, and he has a lot of warmth and character in his voice. Ferruccio Furlanetto often comes very close to stealing the show, apart from a tendency to growl a little too much his voice does have a lot of resonance still. He is also darkly funny, with perhaps the most memorable physical performance of La Calunnia I have ever seen.
In conclusion, a very enjoyable production of Barbiere, with wonderful performances and the improvisation which could've been problematic came across splendidly. 8/10 Bethany Cox
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this