Skip to main content

Il barbiere di Siviglia at Gran Teatre del Liceu and Royal Opera

I saw Il barbiere di Siviglia within the space of a fortnight. And for me it was really interesting to compare and contrast.

The set design: Joan Guillén (Liceu) used big props to dwarf the performers thus creating a comic effect on stage. Christian Fenouillat (Royal Opera) used a tilting sound box to thrust the performers forward, thus leaving the singers to deliver the comic drama. I think the latter work better - as the focus remain on the people, rather than the set.


Set for Act One Scene One, Royal Opera 



Set for Act Two, Gran Teatre del Liceu

The direction: Direction from Patrice Caurier (Royal Opera) was superb - the interplay of the comic characters was wonderful. Joan Font's (Liceu) approach was more straightjacket comedy - though one cannot help there was over reliance on the super-sized props.

The singers: Annalisa Stroppa as Rosina came up top at Liceu with strong acting and an agile voice while Mario Cassi was a passable Figaro: the rest of the cast was ok but not memorable. Michele Angelini as Lindoro / Almaviva (Royal Opera) delivered some pretty good vocal pyrotechnic while Serena Malfi's role as Rosina was playful, feisty and dramatic.

The conductor: Giuseppe Finzi (Liceu) maintained the momentum but there were times when I thought the singers were taking the lead and he merely followed. Sir Mark Elder was at ease in the Covent Garden pit keeping the orchestral playing light (the lack of vibrato in the upper strings during the overture revealed some maltuning) and agile.

Overall? It's good to experience a familiar work in an unfamiliar house, just to see how others do it. But I have to say the Royal Opera's current production wins on so many levels.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bruckner 7 and Haitink's last appearance at the BBC Proms

I was lucky to have gotten a ticket to see Bernard Haitink conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner 7th Symphony. No doubt it is a work that Haitink knows well - he did it without score. The movements were broad, had shape, and above all nuanced rather than bombastic. His mildmannered gestures were in starck contract to Andris Nelsons's rendition of Bruckner 8 (earlier in the season). It was a real treat to see this maestro still deliveirng the musical umph at 90. A memorable concert that was.


Káťa Kabanová, Royal Opera

Katya, sung by Amanda Majeski, had the passionate timbre making her role convincing. Boris (Pavel Cernoch) was ok, and his duet with Majeski was a delight. Susan Bickley's Kabanova was steely and overpowering. Antony McDonald's design and Richard Jones's direction worked well together - the faux 70s decor and costumes added a certain softness to the harsh reality of the society Janáček portrayed. Edward Gardner did the score justice, bring out fabulous melodic lines, nature and the edgy textures.

Death in Venice, the Royal Opera

Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice is packed full of atmoshperic details of the characters surrounding Gustav von Aschenbach. David McVar's production of Britten's last opera brought these characters - leading and incidental alike - into vivid portrays on the Royal Opera stage. Vicki Mortimer's set gave the production a cinematic quality - stark sunshine on the beach, foggy canals and dingy Venetian corners. Mark Padmore's von Aschenbach was weighted without being stodgy. His diction was superb. His singing was nuanced. Gerald Finley amazingly morphed from one character to the next - so unless you knew in advance he played the Traveller, Old Gondolier, Hotel Manager, Elderly Fop, Hotel Barber et al, you wouldn't know that was sung by the same singer. Hats off to that.



Leo Dixon was Tadzio - his movements portrayed vividly both the youthfullness of the character and the allure that was key to his interaction with von Aschenbach. The rest of the dancing cast …