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Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [DVD]  [NTSC]
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John Cox's innovative production for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, with good-looking, authentic designs by William Dudley, put plenty of fizz into this old favourite and was a real hit with the critics. The usual Glyndebourne hallmarks of team work and extended rehearsal paid handsome dividends in this production, filmed in 1982. American soprano excels as the pout Rosina, and John Rawnsley gives a virtuoso performance as the witty barber Figaro.
Cast: Figaro -- John Rawnsley
Rosina -- Maria Ewing
Count Almaviva -- Max-Rene Cosotti
Bartolo -- Claudio Desderi
Basilio -- Ferruccio Furlanetto
The Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Sylvain Cambreling
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Top Customer Reviews
When Maria Ewing appears on the balcony we have a brief taste of the vocal pleasures to come. I like the bit where Figaros shop appears and Almaviva gets his soldiers costume.
The act two set of Bartolos room is quite delightful, Maria Ewing expressing her emotions with eyes as well as voice. I have seen her in varied roles and she always seems to get to the root of the character.
Desderi is a stern self centered Bartolo, not portrayed as a comic figure as in some productions. I prefer his interpretation, he sits well in the part.
Furlanetto has a rich voice, I love his costume and his "slander" is one of the highlights.
The set for act three is again very good, I love the way Rossini makes a satisfying musical meal of " Buona Serra" in this act. It is well presented here.
I own four versions of Il Barbiere and Catherine McCord is by far the best Berta both in singing and acting, I should love to see and hear her in another role.
Watch out for the conversion of the room to the balcony, quite clever and subtle.
This is my favourite version, but Kasarova in the modernised Zurich version is very good, and Herman Prey in a stage filmed version from Alla Scala is not bad. The Met with Florez is passable but not my favourite by any means.
"How I love Rossini," said the great man, "but you must not tell my Wagnerites. They'd never forgive me."
This is a good-looking, bright, energetic and wholly entertaining production of opera's reigning comedic warhorse. If the singing is hardly likely to make hard-core fans throw away their recordings with Callas or Berganza, it is nevertheless perfectly respectable.
This is one of the all-too rare productions in which it appears that the stage director has bothered to read the text. Why, wonder of wonders, when young, lovesick Count Almaviva is supposed to be singing a serenade, the director actually has him do just that. And when Figaro, the town barber, is supposed to be shaving Dr Bartolo, the comic sort-of villain, he actually applies foamy shaving cream. Astonishing!
Maria Ewing sings pretty well as she manages to be strange-looking-but-beautiful-anyway, funny, indomitable and adorable all at once.
This is probably as good a DVD as you might hope to find for introducing a newbie to the mad, illogical and ultimately addictive world of opera.
A NOTE ON CASTING:
One Amazon US reviewer has noted with dismay that Maria Ewing who sings Rosina is actually identified as a soprano, not as a mezzo-soprano for which the role was written. Be reassured. More than a few sopranos have succeeded as Rosina in the nearly two hundred years since "The Barber" was premiered. Rossini, himself, coached soprano Adelina Patti in the part. She scored a triumph. (She later became so famous that the barbershop standard "Sweet Adeline" was written in her honor.) Closer to our own time, a certain Greek-American lady named Callas had some success, too.
This is a pleasure to watch and its production and players are also Brit's! Hooray!
I won't bore anyone with the plot. I would say immediately that Maria Ewing as the love interest, Rosina, was just brilliant - wonderful singing and great character acting. If you can't have a chuckle at her wonderful facial mannerisms then you really are past the point of no return.
John Rawnsley (Figaro & The Barber) was not far behind her and what a good character he was! It just seems odd that this was done some 30 years ago but looks totally fresh in every which way.
My only minus point would be that the 'disguised' characters and their scenes,were for me,a little unconvincing and not particularly funny. However, there were many fine moments - `The `Slander' scene was great with Furlanetto excelling in this role.
The sets were colourful & lavish, as were the costumes. For me this opera just reeks: pleasure & fun, a lovely evening in, nods of appreciation, smiles, etc. etc ...
You couldn't fault any of the singer-actors and the 'chemistry' between them could not have been better. The rapport between the actors is tangible. For instance, Max-Rene Cosotti as Count Almaviva and John Rawnsley's Figaro were obviously very much at home with each other. Claudio Dederi is just perfect as Dr Bartolo and Maria Ewing must surely go down as one of the all time greats as Rosina and I've never seen a better Basilo than that performed for us by Ferruccio Furlanetto. One of the pieces I always watch out for in this work is the solo sung by Berta the Maid and Catherine McCord, who is perfect for the part, didn't disappoint me.
What else can one say? You just can't fault it. In simple terms its just a case of: Glyndebourne does it again! As for the quality of the recording I can't really comment. As with all my DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs, it works perfectly on the equipment I have. Inevitably, there always something that can be picked out as not as good as it should be - picture quality and so on or sound - but I'm not aware of any that kind of thing here. But then, I have to say that I'm generally a happy, easy to please person not given to being driven up the walls by minor annoyances. The character of the Barber of Seville is a great role model. Beset as he is on all sides, he never lets anything get him down. And, believe me, his attitude works. This is great stuff. Buy and enjoy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This DVD shows a lively skilful performance of this entertaining comic opera. I particularly liked John Rawnsley who plays Figaro with just the right amount of comic timing,... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Silverlady
had to have the DVD to replace a video as video player defunct!!!!Published 21 months ago by Gillian Greville
Famous Glyndebourne background. But disappointed by low quality sound and video shots. Realised it was early 80's production when VHS was still king. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Rock'n Roller
I enjoyed this version very much. It was well sung and staged the orchestra was firstrate a very good allround performancePublished on 13 Mar. 2014 by raspberry
Always a wonderful opera but this production was sublime. It was obviously an old video transfered to DVD but that made not a jot of difference to the enjoyment and the quality of... Read morePublished on 7 Mar. 2014 by V J Crowe
With regards to L.E. Cantrell's comments 'A NOTE ON CASTING:':
Note that Maria Ewing started as a MEZZO (and is seen and heard as a fine Cherubino in the Ponnelle film... Read more