Bravo! To the Liceu following Sunday evening’s performance of Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”. All the opera components we love, beautiful arias, wonderfully talented and well-cast performers, creative choreography, colourful costuming, marvellous stage sets, an orchestra in top form and one of the most popular operas provided an outstanding evening for opera fans.
The attention to detail was apparent in a most pleasing way, while the performance was fresh and flawless. The chemistry between all of the lead roles, including Mezzosoprano Annalisa Stroppa as Rosina, Tenor Juan Francisco Gatell as the Count of Almaviva, Baritone Carlos Chausson as Bartolo and Baritone Mario Cassi as Figaro was felt throughout the performance.
Being a Comic Opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia could potentially turn into a silly rather slapstick affair. The priest, Don Basilio (performed by Bass John Relyea) with vibrant blue hair and Dr. Bartolo (Baritone Carlos Chausson) with equally vibrant green hair might seem a bit clownish but only contributed to the humor that was felt by the audience in their frequent chuckles and laughs. Add a pair of quirky servants with “pop-up” sunshine yellow hair busy painting a tree white or hanging from a chandelier while dusting and few in the audience could avoid a smile or a laugh.
The stage props rather than detracting from, enormously added to the overall performance. The large, colorful guitar upon which the Count of Almaviva (Carlos Chausson) sang his first solo, “Ecco Ridente in Cielo” created an ambiance similar to an adult fairy tale and allowed the audience to be transported into a fun fantasy world where optimism reigns and true love conquers all. During many of the other arias small vignettes were being acted out. Again, rather than detracting from the beautiful vocal talents, these little “side shows” made an enormous contribution and showcased not only the outstanding vocal abilities of the performers but their acting abilities as well.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia is Gioachino Rossini’s most famous opera and was written in less than three weeks. However the first performance was booed when it premiered as “Almaviva”. Not long after the second performance, Rossini’s opera became so successful that the fame of Paisiello’s opera Barbiere di Siviglia (which had enjoyed European popularity for over 25 years) was transferred to Rossini’s and to which the title “The Barber of Seville” was passed on. Rossini himself correctly predicted that his Barber of Seville would continue to find favour with posterity, telling a friend, “One thing I believe I can assure you, that of my works, the second act of William Tell, the third act of Otello and all of the Barber of Seville will certainly endure.” My enjoyment in having experienced the Liceu’s “Il Barbiere de Siviglia” will certainly endure for quite some time as well.
The Liceu will be presenting “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” through September 25, 2014.