Rossini - Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Alberto Zedda, Jennifer Larmore) [2003/1992]
PAL 4:3 (720x576) VBR | Italiano (LinearPCM, 2 ch) | 7.46 Gb (DVD9)
Classical | ArtHaus | Sub: English, Deutsch, Francais, Espanol, Italiano | 154 min | +3% Recovery
In an audio recording, the distinctive quality of this Netherlands Opera production of The Barber of Seville would go unnoticed, and a lot of people might like it better without pictures. The singing is first-class, with a pert, smart, visually appealing Rosina (Jennifer Larmore), a Count who can spin out bel canto melodies and also do a good drunk scene (Richard Croft), and a Figaro with lots of personality (David Malis). Conductor Alberto Zedda is an expert in the music of Rossini, but video reveals that, for better or for worse, this Barber of Seville differs radically from other treatments of Rossini's comic masterpiece.
Usually, The Barber of Seville is an intimate little comedy with a half-dozen solo roles and a small, all-male chorus. Except for a few ensemble numbers, there are only two or three people on stage at any given moment, often conversing in stage whispers. Sometimes, in a plot full of secrets and deceptions, supernumeraries are out of place. Dario Fo's staging ignores this stylistic tradition. He gives the solo singers a crowd of artfully choreographed silent partners (including acrobats, dancers and two men rigged to imitate a donkey), who scamper around the stage carrying ladders and sheets, pushing platforms, waving banners and making sure that there is always something to amuse the eyes as well as the ears.
This staging gives a solid visual embodiment to the comic spirit of the words and music, but it wipes out any pretence of dramatic realism. The Barber of Seville does not pretend to be "a slice of life" and many patrons will find that the energy of these added participants is its own justification. But those who treasure traditional staging and the conventions of realism should be ready for a lively but unconventional production. Perhaps they can listen with their eyes closed and enjoy a first-class sound recording. --Joe McLellan
Figaro - David Malis
Rosina - Jennifer Larmore
Almaviva - Richard Croft
Basilio - Simone Alaimo
Bartolo - Renato Capecchi
Berta - Leonie Schoon
Fiorello/officer - Roger Smeets
Chorus of the Netherlands Opera
The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
Conductor - Alberto Zedda