“Here's a Barbiere light of heart and light of touch, graceful in style, with fresh, youngsounding voices (where appropriate), well schooled so as to make those forbiddingly difficult vocal flights sound like flights of fancy, quick as thought and natural as intuition.
It's a concert performance and carries with it a real sense of enjoyment. The Overture moves with relish as from one good thing to another, and movement is the motto for most of the first act. Fiorello and the chorus are no clod-hoppers and the Count is no show-off. 'Ecco ridente' has the assurance of a young aristocrat who has practised his scales and scorns the use of aspirates.( Gramophone )
The cast for this Teatro Real de Madrid production is outstanding across the board. Figaro is the glue of any successful Barber— he moves the action ahead and the audience must look forward to his every appearance, vocally and dramatically. From the first bars of “Largo al factotum della città,” we know Pietro Spagnoli’s got the goods, with a satisfyingly solid and nimble baritone and a natural elegance to his movements on stage. Bruno Praticò is a prime basso buffo practitioner, impressively adept with the patter of Bartolo’s first act aria, his representation of the not-so-good Doctor suitably ridiculous, abetted by a Tweedledum/Tweedledee sort of costume. As Don Basilio, veteran Ruggero Raimondi exudes a perfect blend of decrepitude and cunning; if his voice is no longer as resplendent as it was 20 years ago, he still has a wonderful stage presence.
From start to finish, this performance of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia from the Metropolitan Opera House sparkles with comedic flair and stunning virtuoso singing. If you really want to have an excellent Barbiere from both a musical and dramatic perspective, this is one of the best performances on video. The cast is simply a delight. Leo Nucci is captured in great voice and stage presence as Figaro, one of his best roles. "Largo al Factotum" is on this performance a real show stopper, with Nucci showcasing his vocal and scenic agility, projecting the text with expression and tossing some fine high A's. During the rest of the opera Nucci is always engaging, a Figaro both intelligent and funny. Kathleen Battle is the perfect soprano Rosina. Her singing here is a real lesson on bel canto…
In Parma, where audiences are considered the most discerning in all Italy, the benchmark for vocal artists is set traditionally high. Operagoers here are intimately familiar with the works of their favourites, from Rossini to Puccini, and know every tricky corner by heart. God forbid any singer who fails to accomplish the task without due seemliness Unsurprisingly, then, this performance attempts no directorial experiments. The main setting for this realistically inspired production both indoors and out is Rosinas house, which is converted as required into its constituent parts.
Captured live at London’s Royal Opera House, this Barbiere, with its unbeatable cast and the directors’ characteristic wit and intelligence, offers a unique dramatic twist: Joyce DiDonato, who had broken her leg on the opening night, went on with the show. As she said: “Being trapped in the wheelchair was a quite literal way of demonstrating Rosina's huge desire to break free.
The Naxos label has done a wonderful job of providing opera-lovers with inexpensive recordings of both repertory and rare operas. This recording of Rossini's perennial "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" sets a standard which will be hard to sustain. The orchestra, a group of players from the Hungarian State Opera, are lively and alert to the musical presentation desired by conductor Humburg. The soloists are, with few exceptions, wonderful. Roberto Servile in the title role is as good as modern baritones get in the role–he sings well and is having a marvelous time of it. Franco de Grandis sings splendidly as Don Basilio. Sonia Ganassi, singing Rosina, brings good coloratura technique to Rossini's sometimes fiendish writing, but somehow lacks those indefinable qualities which make a great Rosina…