Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)
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 Campanella
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
ARTHAUS 107281 DVD [152:00]
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 red wine!
All in all these were two-and-a-half-hours very well spent.