The Marriage of the Barber!
Tomorrow Met will start off with its new season!!! And it will be opened with a new production of «Le nozze di Figaro»! I’m SOOO excited about that and…I actually didn’t plan it but I’ve watched two Met productions about Figaro: «The Barber of Seville» (2007) with Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Florez and Peter Mattei and «The marriage of Figaro» (1998) with Cecilia Bartoli, Bryn Terfel, Renee Fleming. These operas form sort of a sequel cause Beaumarchais wrote the trilogy about this amazing character and Rossini and Mozart composed wonderful music for his two hilarious plays. It’s quite an interesting experience to watch them in a chronological order as you can feel this touch of reality…I mean the relationship between Almaviva and Rosina. They are so young and full of love in «The barber» but then we see that in «Le nozze» they are not the same anymore:(. Their passion dies out and Countess tries to return those days of love back. It looks so real and sad….but let’s talk about the productions!
«Il Barbiere di Siviglia» is a hilarious production by Bartlett Sher. It’s full of fun, joy, surprises and, of course, lots of coloraturas:). One of the great things about it is that the director and his team came up with an idea to broaden the stage around the orchestra pit. It helps to make an audience a real participant of the action whom the singers often communicate with. John Del Carlo is a master of buffo parts! I’ve also seen him in Met’s «Don Pasquale» in the same kind of role which perfectly fits his appearance and a comic talent! The audience always laughed when Del Carlo was on stage. Peter Mattei had a time of his life playing a crafty barber though I have some questions about his singing. John Relyea, appearing in a small part of Don Basilio, was amazing in «La calunnia». I was laughing during the whole piece, I guess:). He made his character so obsessed with the idea of calumny and it looked so funny! The main stars of this opera, Juan Diego Florez and Joyce DiDonato, made a lovely duet and the audience went wild every time after their solo arias!
In the extract below you’ll find the lesson scene «Contro un Cor» where Almaviva pretends to be a music teacher replacing Don Basilio in order to see Rosina. Rosina recognizes him but Dr Bartolo doesn’t, fortunately for them:). This video demonstrates great singing and acting of this cast!
The second production I’ve watched is «Le Nozze di Figaro». I can’t even find the best words to describe my feelings about it cause it’s just FANTASTIC!!! And the most interesting fact is that it’s a super conventional production! Nowadays many directors like to set the action in the modern times to make it more entertaining for the audience but actually it doesn’t always guarantee you that. Of course, the same situation can happen with a traditional staging but…here we have an opposite thing. I think that Met production of «The marriage of Figaro» is ideal from any angle you look at it! I was enjoying it from the first note to the last one cause every word, every music line was reflected with action or movement on stage. We need to thank the director Jonathan Miller for making Mozart visible in his production. All the cast did a great job as well. Bryn Terfel, Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Dwayne Croft, Susanne Mentzer, Paul Plishka, Wendy White, Heinz Zednik, Danielle de Niese (What a cast!) – I wanna mention everybody cause here each of them lives his/her part 100%! You don’t see them as opera singers, they are Figaro, Susanna, Cherubino etc. Needless to say, that musically this cast is magnificent!!!
The best demonstration of my point is the following scene from Act 2 where Count Almaviva suspects his wife of having a love affair (which is not true) while Countess, Rosina and Figaro try to protect themselves and to work out this complicated situation. During the whole scene you can hear the tension in the score which relates to the tension between characters on stage.
As you can guess, I highly recommend you to watch these brilliant operas, despite the fact, that new Met season includes them (but with other casts). I guarantee you’ll have a great time!
And Happy New Met Season!