Thursday, November 21, 2013

SFO: Barber of Seville

Alessandro Corbelli (Doctor Bartolo) and Lucas Meachem (Figaro).
Photo by Cory Weaver.
San Francisco Opera's current production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia is double cast, & line-up I heard Tuesday night was solid. As the Count, tenor Javier Camarena has a gorgeous, velvety voice, & his singing was seductive. He had great dynamic control, executed all the tricky coloratura passages with virtuosity & even accompanied himself on guitar. It was exciting to hear him deliver the usually cut "Cessa di più resistere," which received fittingly prolonged applause. Baritone Lucas Meachem was a somewhat hunky Figaro, sporting a major 5 o'clock shadow & making a roomy & athletic sound. Mezzo Isabel Leonard played a spitfire Rosina. Her singing was consistently strapping & her high notes secure. Baritone Alessandro Corbelli must be close to 70 is over 60, but his singing & acting as Doctor Bartolo were vital & tight. It was wonderful to hear bass Andrea Silvestrelli's bottomless pit of a voice as Don Basilio. The difference in height between him & Mr. Corbelli was comical in itself. It was also nice to hear baritone Ao Li's deep, round sound as Fiorello.

The set consists of a diagonal slice of floor & moveable walls along one side, containing doors & windows. It looks incomplete to me. The staging is packed with random visual jokes & is very busy but not very coherent. I never felt that anything was really at stake. Props include an exercise bicycle, cotton candy & a gigantic bust of Rossini. 8 Spanish dancers participate in the action, & characters sometime crawl out from beneath the set. At the end of act 1 the principals attempt to exit down ladders into the orchestra pit & then find themselves on the wrong side of the descending curtain. I was confused about what part of the house the characters were in during the elopement scene in act 2.

SF Opera Box Office photo IMG_20131119_192408_zps91663da1.jpgThe orchestra played extrovertedly under conductor Giuseppe Finzi. Tempos were brisk, & there were a few moments when the orchestra & singers were not in sync. I liked hearing the clarinet & flute solos. A harpsichord accompanied the recitatives for Bartolo & Basilio while a fortepiano accompanied the younger characters. I was in upstairs standing room & spent a lot of time watching the woman seated in front of me bounce up & down to Rossini's music. During intermission the odor of pot wafted from a knot of older patrons on the outside balcony.

§ Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Music by Gioachino Rossini

San Francisco Opera
Conductor: Giuseppe Finzi
Director: Emilio Sagi

Fiorello: Ao Li
Count Almaviva: Javier Camarena
Doctor Bartolo: Alessandro Corbelli
Figaro: Lucas Meachem
Rosina: Isabel Leonard
Don Basilio: Andrea Silvestrelli
Berta: Catherine Cook
Ambrogio: A.J. Glueckert
Notary: Andrew Truett
An Officer: Hadleigh Adams

Tue 11/19/13 8:00pm
War Memorial Opera House


Leticia Austria said...

Alessandro is 61. He was born on September 21, 1952.

Axel Feldheim said...

Very good. Thanks for providing accurate information about Corbelli's age! I should have looked it up myself before throwing around a guesstimate.

Leticia Austria said...

No problem. His career took off at an extremely early age (21) and has been sustained at a very high level. So it does seem as if he's been around forever.

Axel Feldheim said...

Judging by his performance here, he shows no signs of slowing down either!