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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black and white in colour
This was my third Barbiere so far this year and it is only May so I was not exactly looking forward to it. I put it on at 9 pm after a hard day's work and watched it right through till after midnight. It was so good that it was like hearing and seeing the opera for the first time. Right from the overture, with Gianluigi Gelmetti conducting the orchestra of the Real Teatre...
Published on 30 Oct. 2009 by Leonardo

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Surreal Production!
A radical, surreal production with over the top farce.

Picture quality 3 - poor digital video look.
Sound quality 5
Sets 4 - large, impressive black and white sets which can be wheeled on and off very quickly. During the overture a whole street is assembled!
Storytelling 5
Acting 2 - over the top farcical acting which becomes irritating...
Published on 23 July 2012 by BoskoG


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black and white in colour, 30 Oct. 2009
By 
This review is from: Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) - Madrid Teatro Real [DVD] [2005] [NTSC] (DVD)
This was my third Barbiere so far this year and it is only May so I was not exactly looking forward to it. I put it on at 9 pm after a hard day's work and watched it right through till after midnight. It was so good that it was like hearing and seeing the opera for the first time. Right from the overture, with Gianluigi Gelmetti conducting the orchestra of the Real Teatre in Madrid, it is clear we are in for something special. The curtain rises to a Seville street scene in black and white. All the characters wear black and white costumes.The effect is strangely beautiful.

The first half hour of this opera, until Rosina's entrance can be a little bit tedious but not in this production. Juan Diego Florèz as Count Almaviva shows why he is currently the world's leading Rossini tenor. I loved his serenade at Rosina's window and the fact that, instead of his pretending to play a guitar, the Spanish guitar player in the orchestra is spotlighted. Then we have the entrance of Figaro, sung by Pietro Spagnoli. Figaro is sometimes played as a bit of a clown but not in this production. He is a very dapper barber in his white waistcoat with black spots. Normally Figaro has the stage to himself when he addresses the audience but in this production, when he sings his "Largo al factotum", he is in a street bustling with people. He even cuts someones hair while he is singing. This is so obvious and natural that I wonder why I have never seen it done before. The idea of having an audience for the big solo numbers is repeated for Don Basilio's aria "La Calumnia" and also during Rosina's music lesson.

I was smitten by Maria Bayo's Rosina. She has a beautiful and very distinctive voice with a little girl timbre but an operatic volume. Her Italian has a charming Spanish accent which seems entirely appropriate. Bruno Praticò as Doctor Bartolo is good fun because he is younger and more repulsive than usual. There is a lot of comic business in this opera and it can sometimes be tedious but not in this production. All the stuff about letters and laundry lists, drunken soldiers and fake music teachers is carried off brilliantly. My only disappointment was the Act I finale, which should be the highlight of the opera. It was too complicated with a platoon of soldiers descending into the orchestra and then reappearing from trapdoors, detracting from the brilliance of Rossini's writing at this point.

Suddenly after three black and white hours, in the final scene, everything bursts into hilarious colour with violently clashing pink, red and crimson costumes. At this point Juan Diego Florèz springs a surprise: he performs the aria that is usually dropped from Il Barbiere that we now all know as the soprano tour de force from the end of La Cenerentola. Not surprisingly the Madrid audience goes wild. I loved it even though I felt slightly disconcerted hearing it sung by a tenor.

This production could not be bettered either visually, musically or dramatically. It restores my faith in a tired old warhorse. It must have been just as exciting as this on the first night in Rome in 1816
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous Florez, 11 Sept. 2007
By 
S. Siddall (Blackpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) - Madrid Teatro Real [DVD] [2005] [NTSC] (DVD)
Quite one of the best versions of this opera I have seen.
From the ingenious and beautiful sets and costumes to the very best singing this performance is a joy to the ears and the eyes.
Florez continues to grow in stage craft and his voice matures delightfully.
The lovely light voice of Maria Bayo is also a wonder to hear.
Altogether a performance to savour.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stunning production, 7 Dec. 2008
By 
Mr. P. A. Hyde "Peter Hyde" (Hants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Have a look at the 19 reviews of the non blu ray version on Amazon.com. I won't repeat them. This blu ray shows off HD to briliant effect. The costumes, the set and the design produce an effect which dazzles the eye. A truly world class performance from Juan Diego Flores alone makes this a worthy addition to your collection. It can be nitpicked but if you are building a blu ray collection, include this to show it off.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stylish production and performance of considerable character, 22 Nov. 2011
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This production of The Barber of Seville from 2005 was made at Madrid's Teatro Real which seems particularly appropriate for an opera set in Spain. There is, throughout this performance, a very Spanish variety of energy with background characters moving about with references to Spanish dance movements and postures which also feature strongly at the conclusion of the opera.

The setting is very stylish and strikingly clean-cut with much use made of black and white colour schemes. Stage sets are moved in full view of the audience and are moved in such a way as to become part of the performance. The period is not precise but has an 18th century aura about it but seen very much through a stylised modern viewpoint. I found this to be very effective. The predominantly black and white colour scheme changes dramatically at the end with a festive burst of colour which adds significantly to the celebratory feel of the finale complete with .

The cast are uniformly excellent with a strong sense of fun being created. This is apparent between Figaro and Almaviva, between Figaro and Rosina and also extends to individual roles such as Bartolo, Don Basilio and the maid Berta who also sings her aria in act 3 especially well. Florez is very much billed as the star of this production and he is on very good form vocally and clearly enjoys his role in this production. A surprise addition is his extended final aria, normally heard at the end of Cinderella, which brings to tumultuous applause. However, he by no means otherwise outshines Pietro Spagnoli as Figaro who comes over as a particularly strong characterisation. He is also a particularly good singer who easily copes with the range and the speed of the vocal challenges. I would go so far as to suggest that this is one of the best musical performances of this role that I have yet seen.

Maria Bayo makes a fine Rosina with secure vocal technique and a good dramatic sense. She is also young enough and attractive enough for her to be believably attractive to Count Almaviva. Too often the singers chosen for this role are unlikely to appeal in these ways and therefore undermine the necessary suspension of disbelief for the story to work dramatically. Bartolo, in this performance, is more youthfully vigorous than in some performances which portray him as far past his prime. The role here is portrayed as more blustering and lightweight so his acceptance of rejection at the conclusion comes as no surprise to either him or the audience. Don Basilio, performed by Ruggero Raimondi, is a reliable portrayal and the signature `scandal' aria in act 1 comes over well.

The chorus support the main character parts with good singing and characterisation and the orchestra play well under the attentive guidance of the conductor, Gianluigi Gelmetti.

The camera work and imaging quality are of a high standard as is the sound reproduction. The sound is presented in DTS 5.0 and stereo and is of good range and fidelity.

The is a 16 minute bonus film which takes a look backstage and a full-length documentary, `The Useless Precaution', during which the cast and the director provide a detailed introduction to the opera. This is well-worth watching and offers far more depth than is often the case.

Overall this can be described as a particularly stylish production with first class musical values couples with a strong forward momentum and strong dramatic characterisations. There is a winning sense of fun maintained throughout and the whole was much appreciated by the audience. For these reasons I would expect most purchasers of this disc to share that enjoyment and to find this a very good production and performance. A 5 star rating seems appropriate therefore.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scintillating Performance, 21 May 2011
By 
H. A. Weedon "Mouser" (North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) - Madrid Teatro Real [DVD] [2005] [NTSC] (DVD)
I strongly disagree with the two reviewers who downgraded this production to less than five stars largely because of the directing of Angel Louis Ramirez, which I thought enhanced the production in that it intertwined the visual with the acoustics in a delightfully entertaining manner. And for goodness sake, what is wrong with the principles singing from near-acrobatic stances? After all, isn't The Barber of Seville, a very bouncy, skippy style of opera? Ramirez is to be congratulated for realising this through his brilliant and orginal stage direction, which very much adds to the enjoyment of this delightful production.

As one might expect, Juan Diego Florez as Il Comte d'Almaviva and Mario Bayo as Rosina were both outstanding, but so were all the singers. Since so much is always expected of the actor who sings Figaro it's all too easy to find fault with anyone who plays this roll. Pietro Spagnoli did it his way and he was firstrate. For me, Susana Cordon's portrayal of Berta was the highlight of a scintillating performance imaginatively directed by Angel Louis Ramirez and I shall never tire of watching it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Singing - Lousy Staging, 25 Mar. 2011
By 
Satish Kamath (India) - See all my reviews
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Barber of Seville is probably one of the most 'produced' opera on the Video for over 3 decades now. To compare these productions would be quite a folly, as one can see experimentation from time to time, trying to make the Opera 'feel' a little different all the time. That way, this one is no exception, except that the directors have gone overboard to make it as clumsy as possible.

The fact that it is staged in Madrid, does not mean that one has to incorporate a lot of Spanish peasantry dancing the Spanish thingies all over the place. At times I feel that there is a lot of 'loitering' around. I was, however, impressed with the sets as such and people moving it physically right from the time of the overture throughout the staging. This is probably the only redeeming factor of the newer 'innovations'. Otherwise, the 'extras' in this production are simply distracting, irrelevant and hamming it out most of the time.

Singing is just Divine. I would compare Florez with Florez himself. In the recent production of this opera in the Royal Opera House with DiDonato (in a wheel chair), Florez was not half this good. There, he took some time to warm up, his introductory Aria and the first two or three pieces were clearly shaky. Not in this production. He is fantastic throughout.

Maria Bayo, the pocket sized Rosina is better heard than seen. Oh, she has quite a charming smile all by itself, and I am sure she looks quite cute in real life when not singing. But this soprano, who has probably the BEST delivery of words and clear diction and a voice and intonation to match is no sight for sore eyes while singing. She contorts her face out of proportion (I have seen that happen in L'Elisir which she sung with Villazon last year) and makes a spectacle of herself. Of course, she is not really alone in this, but in a production that is being filmed in HD and sold in blu ray, I am afraid, it stands out quite a bit. I think the cameramen were aware of this too, and thankfully there are not too many close-ups of Bayo.

Spagnoli singing the Barber is making quite an impression as a 'Great' Barber, both here and in the ROH production. He is even better here than in the ROH again, because of the rather different tempi adopted by the conductor, Gelmetti.
It is always a pleasure to hear the other old warhorse, Raimondi as Don Basilio. Pratico as Bartolo has done as splendid a job here as he has as Dr.Dulcamara in the L'Elisir. He is the only one whose role fits the slapstick type designed in this production.

All in all, a good recording, sometimes muddy during the more animated portions involving more than 3 singers together. Subtitling is rather erratic. To people who are very familiar with the work, it should not matter much

One star less for the staging and dramatization, where the visual element which is so important while experiencing opera in any form makes it less satisfying to watch and have the satisfaction of having 'experienced' it in the end. I am only relieved that these guys did not try and transplant it into the 21st century as some would have been tempted to do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical, 25 July 2011
There are few Barbers available on video. The one most of us will be familar with is the Quilico/Bartoli DVD which would be hard to equal. This Madrid production suprpasses it, in my opinion, but is very different and difficult to compare.

The staging is highly original while remaining in-period and has a distinctly Spanish feel to it. The cast appear to be having a great deal of fun with the performance and that is just as it should be. Spagnoli's Figaro improves as the opera progresses. I know he has received some criticism for his Largo al Factotum but I think it undeserved. Bayo's Rosina is sung Soprano and this version includes Rossini's additional aria for Soprano. Bayo is superb albeit with a heavy-handed vibrato and tense delivery but wonderful coloratura. Florez is stellar as Count Almaviva.

Special mention should go to Susana Cordon whose Berta brings an oft-ignored sometimes down-beat role to the fore with a superbly sung and acted Che vecchio sospettoso.

You will love it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stylish production and performance of considerable character, 22 Nov. 2011
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) - Madrid Teatro Real [DVD] [2005] [NTSC] (DVD)
This production of The Barber of Seville from 2005 was made at Madrid's Teatro Real which seems particularly appropriate for an opera set in Spain. There is, throughout this performance, a very Spanish variety of energy with background characters moving about with references to Spanish dance movements and postures which also feature strongly at the conclusion of the opera.

The setting is very stylish and strikingly clean-cut with much use made of black and white colour schemes. Stage sets are moved in full view of the audience and are moved in such a way as to become part of the performance. The period is not precise but has an 18th century aura about it but seen very much through a stylised modern viewpoint. I found this to be very effective. The predominantly black and white colour scheme changes dramatically at the end with a festive burst of colour which adds significantly to the celebratory feel of the finale complete with .

The cast are uniformly excellent with a strong sense of fun being created. This is apparent between Figaro and Almaviva, between Figaro and Rosina and also extends to individual roles such as Bartolo, Don Basilio and the maid Berta who also sings her aria in act 3 especially well. Florez is very much billed as the star of this production and he is on very good form vocally and clearly enjoys his role in this production. A surprise addition is his extended final aria, normally heard at the end of Cinderella, which brings to tumultuous applause. However, he by no means otherwise outshines Pietro Spagnoli as Figaro who comes over as a particularly strong characterisation. He is also a particularly good singer who easily copes with the range and the speed of the vocal challenges. I would go so far as to suggest that this is one of the best musical performances of this role that I have yet seen.

Maria Bayo makes a fine Rosina with secure vocal technique and a good dramatic sense. She is also young enough and attractive enough for her to be believably attractive to Count Almaviva. Too often the singers chosen for this role are unlikely to appeal in these ways and therefore undermine the necessary suspension of disbelief for the story to work dramatically. Bartolo, in this performance, is more youthfully vigorous than in some performances which portray him as far past his prime. The role here is portrayed as more blustering and lightweight so his acceptance of rejection at the conclusion comes as no surprise to either him or the audience. Don Basilio, performed by Ruggero Raimondi, is a reliable portrayal and the signature `scandal' aria in act 1 comes over well.

The chorus support the main character parts with good singing and characterisation and the orchestra play well under the attentive guidance of the conductor, Gianluigi Gelmetti.

The camera work and imaging quality are of a high standard as is the sound reproduction. The sound is presented in DTS 5.0 and stereo and is of good range and fidelity.

The is a 16 minute bonus film which takes a look backstage and a full-length documentary, `The Useless Precaution', during which the cast and the director provide a detailed introduction to the opera. This is well-worth watching and offers far more depth than is often the case.

Overall this can be described as a particularly stylish production with first class musical values couples with a strong forward momentum and strong dramatic characterisations. There is a winning sense of fun maintained throughout and the whole was much appreciated by the audience. For these reasons I would expect most purchasers of this disc to share that enjoyment and to find this a very good production and performance. A 5 star rating seems appropriate therefore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opera, Barber of Seville, 5 July 2010
By 
A. M. Pardoe (Worcestershire UK) - See all my reviews
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A very good production,well produced. Having just seen the BBC broadcast of the Marriage of Figaro from Covent Garden on BBC4, this Barber production didn't have enough close-up sequences to give a better feeling. There were quite a lot of distant whole stage shots, some essential because there was an under stage sequence going on at the same time as the main stage and no doubt difficult to show in close-up without losing the overall setting. The singing was very good and clear and the individual perfomers sang very well and clearly, particularly Rosina and Figaro. The sub-titles were also necessary becasue there always seems to be confusion in opera stories with people pretending to be someone else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A capivating performance - riot of colour., 1 Sept. 2010
By 
Nigel Mc (The Chilterns) - See all my reviews
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I am no expert on Rossini opera's, having spent most of my time enjoying Mozart, Puccini and Verdi. Some years ago I did see a version of the Barber at the Coliseum in London but that performance did nothing to encourage me to see more of Rossini.

With hindsight I clearly needed the stimulus of a production like the disc in question. I have watched this opera 3 times on this magnificent Blu-ray. It just gets better and better. I can't get some of the tunes out of my head. I cannot imagine Rossini much better than this.

The video and audio quality is superb - a demonstration disc if ever I saw one. All the artists are top notch. There is great humour in this performance. It is so unfair to single out anyone in particular but Ruggero Raimondi's Don Basilio stands out in my mind and Juan Diego Florez is superb. But they are all so good.

I liked the way that the opera moves from being predominantly black and white towards a riot of colour in the finale. The ensemble singing is excellent and the audience is left clamouring for more. With the wonders of dvd this is easily achieved by the click of a button. Trust me when I say that you will want to view this performance many, many times over.
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