Gioachino ROSSINI (1792
Il barbiere di Siviglia- an opera buffa in
two acts (1816)
Roberto Saccà (tenor) - Count d’Almaviva; Carlos Chausson
(bass-baritone) - Bartolo; Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) - Rosina; Dalibor
Jenis (baritone) - Figaro; Kristinn Sigmundsson (bass) - Basilio;
Nicholas Garrett (bass-baritone) - Fiorello; Jeannette Fischer (soprano)
-Berta; Denis Aubry (bass) - Un ufficiale
Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra national de Paris/Bruno
rec. live, Opéra national de Paris, 2002
Stage Director: Coline Serreau;
Set Designer: Jean-Marc Stehlé and Antoine Fontaine;
Costume Designer: Elsa Pavanel;
Lighting Designer: Geneviève Soubirou
Directed for TV and Video by Ariane Adriani
Sound Formats: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, IT, ES
Picture Format: 16:9 anamorphic
Region Code 0
After a nice dinner and with a glass of good Spanish red wine
we sat down in our most comfortable chairs in front of the TV
and pressed PLAY. There were some nice indoor pictures from
the Opéra national de Paris, as almost always with filmed
stage performances. The conductor entered the podium, grey hair,
noble profile. The overture took off, sizzling with energy and
good humour. Quick look in the booklet. Of course, Bruno Campanella!
He knows his Rossini inside out. Overture over. Curtain up.
A sip from the glass. But ...Oh no! What’s this? The wrong
opera? ‘A square in Seville’ is the heading of the
first act in all opera handbooks. But this is Turkey! Is it
Die Entführung aus dem Serail? But the music is
Rossini and it is Fiorello. Good singer, by the way. Is there
an explanation for the setting? The booklet gives no clues.
It says, as always: A square in Seville. Are we witnessing the
Moorish invasion of Hispania? Well, that was more than 1000
years before Rossini’s days and the last Muslim stronghold
fell in 1492. Confusion, confusion. Better forget history and
concentrate on the story. A Turkish-looking Almaviva appears.
Roberto Saccà, says the booklet. Heard him some years
ago as a good Alfredo in La traviata. Almaviva isn’t
his cup of tea, that’s obvious. His tone sways and is
too hard - but he is responsive to the text and nuances well.
I’m beginning to forget that strange setting, yes, I actually
like this exoticism. The production is lively, recitatives quick
and close to speech. Figaro’s La-ran-la-lera is
heard off-stage and in he comes, dressed in blue-and-yellow
- a Swedish Figaro in Turkey? - and look: he has a mini-umbrella
on his head! This gets funnier and funnier! Guitar in hand,
of course. In the olden days Figaro always brought a guitar.
What a singer ... and actor! Dalibor Jenis! He comes from Slovakia
and has an international career. The Factotum-aria is brilliantly
sung - and with some deft embellishments as well.
My wife, who isn’t very fond of Il barbiere - too
much business, she usually says - is still awake and, more than
that, greatly enjoying the whole production. The action fizzes
along and the singing and acting silences any opposition concerning
silly plot. Joyce DiDonato, here fairly early in her now illustrious
career - this was her debut at the Paris Opéra - is the
Rosina of one’s dreams. She is absolutely irresistible!
The DVD is worth its price for her contribution alone. Then
we have that superb singing-actor Carlos Chausson, one of the
most eminent buffo singers of his generation, the voice still
in fine fettle. Kristinn Sigmundsson is the magnificent Icelandic
bass, whose booming La calunnia is exactly the showstopper
it should be. Even Berta, a role too often allotted to some
over-aged veteran - or maybe under-aged beginner, is here sung
and acted in line with her illustrious colleagues. Jeannette
Fischer is certainly a name to reckon with.
When we reach the second act our initial confusion is long ago
gone with the wind. We savour the singing and acting and the
beautiful costumes and the sets and our good Spanish wine with
the same appetite. It is a pity that Roberto Saccà isn’t
quite in the same league vocally as the others but he is charming
and good-looking - no bad thing for a Conte d’Almaviva.
All in all these were two-and-a-half-hours very well spent.
Try this set, dear reader, why not with a glass of good Spanish