Saturday, October 10, 2009
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
The Metropolitan Opera
Thursday, October 8, 2009, 8:00 pm
Conductor: Maurizio Benini
Rosina: Joyce DiDonato
Count Almaviva: Barry Banks
Figaro: Rodion Pogossov
Dr. Bartolo: John Del Carlo
Don Basilio: Orlin Anastassov
Berta: Claudio Waite
Ambrogio: Rob Besserer
Production: Bartlett Sher
I was able to be in a comfy seat in the Grand Tier this evening, & therefore had an excellent view for this cartoonish & silly production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The stage is extended around & in front of the pit, so that singers can walk right up to the 1st row of the auditorium. The set consists primarily of doors which are rearranged for every scene. Everything on stage is in motion at some point. Even Figaro's barber shop is a huge wagon, pulled by several women & followed by a very sweet live donkey.
The production is full of outrageous gags, many of which took me by surprise. Even a giant anvil descending slowly from the flys during the Act I finale somehow worked. Poor Ambrogio takes a lot of physical abuse, being stepped on, crushed by a tree & even blown up.
John Del Carlo as Dr. Bartolo not only sang with a large, resonant voice but also created a great character. His Bartolo was funny & yet always remained a serious obstacle to the lovers. Joyce DiDonata has a delightfully ingratiating stage presence. Her voice easily executes long, even lines, & she applied liberal ornamentation.
Rodion Pogossov made Figaro a likeably self-confident fellow, & he kept up an extremely rapid tempo for Largo al factotum. During his curtain call, it look liked Figaro gave out business cards to people in the front row. Barry Banks has a very high & light voice, & he negotiates Almaviva's long lines fearlessly, though his coloratura is sometimes a little blurry. He sang all of the Count's final bravura aria, Cessa di più resistere. I may never have heard the whole thing in a theater before.
I found Maurizio Benini's conducting to be relentless fast, but no one seemed to have any problems keeping up. The musicians in the Met's pit continue to astonish me. The guitarist accompanying the Count's two serenades in the 1st scene played with great beauty & finesse. If someone played the guitar like that for me, I'd fall for it.