If you are a purist about opera or Classical music, believing operas should be performed only in their native language, or seeing Rossini's "Barber" as a Spanish opera, then you should avoid this DVD. But if you like great singing by the likes of Fritz Wunderlich (1930-1966) and Hermann Prey (1929-1998): they have terrific teamwork here - then grab this, by all means! At first the German words for Rossini's "Barber" were disconcerting, but the ear adjusts quickly, and with such wonderful singing and acting, any reservations are swept aside. Hans Hotter is seen as Basilio, in a comic role I didn't know he was capable of; Erika Koth is an excellent Rosina, as seen through the aural lens of Vienese operetta. The Black and white picture is fine, but there are relatively few closeups, and using the "Zoom" function produces some fuzzy looking film. Still, video technology in 1959 was limited, compared with what we have today, and we are fortuneate to have this in DVD form, for the ages.
Joseph Keilberth (1908-1968) leads Rossini in a very Italianate style, the orchestra never being heavy or too serious. The Bavarian State Orchestra made many recordings, but this is my first exposure to them in a Rossini opera.
For a contrast, try Rossini's "Barber" in Jean Pierre Ponelle's film, with Luigi Alva, Teresa Berganza, Hermann Prey, Enzo Dara, and Paolo Montarsolo, with Claudio Abbado/La Scala (DG), sung in Italian, with no audience present. I learned "Barber" from Abbado's recording, and it is very fine, too.
Recommended then, for fans of great singing, of Fritz Wunderlich, Hermann Prey or Joseph Keilberth. I will be watching this repeatedly with much pleasure.