ROSSINI: Il barbeire di Siviglia

But with an evergreen crowd-pleaser
such as Il barbeire di Siviglia, companies won’t wait to put on new
productions. San Francisco Opera debuted its revolving house set in recent
years, and the Metroplitan just inaugurated a new production, favorably
reviewed, this season. TDK now releases a 2002 staging from the Paris Opera,
directed by Coline Serreau and designed by Jean-Marc StehlË and Antoine

Under the creators’ conception, the Seville of the story remains under
Moorish rule. In fact, the city seems to have been transplanted to a North
African desert. Arab nomads accompany the Count as he walks through a desert
landscape to serenade Rosina outside Dr. Bartolo’s stone and wood dwelling.
Later, the interior of Bartolo’s home brings some welcome color, of turquiose
and then gold. The final tableaux has the happy young lovers wandering off
into an oasis of sprouting palm trees.

Why? Perhaps just because it looks cool. At least the creators had the
good sense not to make the Count a European who rescues Rosina from her
oppressive Arab master, which would have been a troublesome interpretation in
this day and age. However, they have made Figaro a ridiculuously
anachronistic figure, with a beach-umbrella hat and cell phones of various
colors hooked to his sleeve. In other words, don’t think about it. Just enjoy
the show.

The show can best be enjoyed once Joyce DiDonato’s Rosina appears. An
appealing stage presence, DiDonato in her short career has already made her
Rosina a classic interpretation: lively, clever, and always beautifully sung.
The only singer near her class here is Kristinn Sigmundson, whose handsome
bass makes Don Basillio a more appealing figure than usual.

The three other major male roles get adequate performances, not much more.
Roberto Sacca’s Almaviva has the right energy but the tone isn’t especially
attractive. Dalibor Jenis needs to expend a more energy in a role such as
Figaro if he is going to deserve having the opera’s title. As Bartolo, Carlos
Chausson does well by the character’s comic villainy; once again, the voice
is nothing special.

Jeanette Fischer, the Berta, throws a few wild “hip-hop” moves in her very
funny solo number.

Bruno Campanella conducts the score with the kind of affection that
matters — an appreciation for Rossini’s orchestral color and

With a cast that could match DiDonato’s inspiration, this DVD would be a
must-see. As it is, lovers of this opera can still find much to enjoy,
including an amusing credit sequence (under the overture) . And perhaps a
helpful Opera Today reader can explain to this reviewer why, when
Figaro schemes to get the house key from Dr. Bartolo, the subtitle has him
wishfully thinking that with the key, “We’d be home and hosed.”

Chris Mullins

image_description=Gioachino Rossini: II barbiere di Siviglia
product_title=Gioachino Rossini: II barbiere di Siviglia
product_by=Joyce DiDonato, Roberto Sacca, Dalibor Jenis, Carlos Chausson, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Orchestre et Choeurs de l’Opera National de Paris, Bruno Campanella (cond.)
product_id=TDK DVWW-OPBARB [DVD]