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…
An opera buffa, a comedy, a masterpiece of intrigues, lies and love! 'Il Barbiere di Siviglia' (The Barber of Seville), an opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini, from the Teatro Regio di Parma. The production stars Dmitry Korchak as Il Conte d'Almaviva, Ketevan Kemoklidze as Rosina, Luca Salsi as Figaro and Giovanni Furlanetto as Don Basilio. The aging Doctor Bartolo longs to marry Rosina; but with the aid of the energetic and enterprising barber Figaro, the Count succeeds in gaining entry to Bartolo's house disguised first as a soldier then as a music teacher…
This DVD is in fact the "break a leg" version which sees Joyce DiDonato perform her role in a wheelchair - a story which has occupied international headlines last year - and definitely a DVD which will stand out. The DVD will include bonus features like an interview with Joyce on her stage accident and subsequent wheelchair performances… (Opera News)
“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…
(…) Concert reviews in England have been ecstatic, and, to judge from the Barber and a recital of Rossini arias, she [Cecilia Bartoli] may be the real article: a young singer with a generous vocal endowment and, more unusual, a distinctive and communicative musical personality. Hear this performance for her. New York Magazine 15-jan-1990
“…a version light of heart and light of touch, graceful in style, with fresh, young-sounding 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. …the clarity of ensemble is a delight, as is the elegant playing the Munich orchestra.” (Gramophone)
Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile (The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution) is a comic opera by Giovanni Paisiello from a libretto by Giuseppe Petrosellini, even though his name is not identified on the score's title page.
The opera was first performed on 26 September 1782 (old Russian calendar, 15 September) at the Imperial Court, Saint Petersburg. It was adapted from the play Le Barbier de Séville of Pierre Beaumarchais. The full title for the opera reads: "Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La Precauzione inutile, dramma giocoso per musica tradotto liberamente dal francese, da rappresentarsi nel Teatro Imperiale del corte, l'anno 1782" (Trans: "The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution, comical drama with music freely translated from the French, presented at the Imperial Court Theater, the year 1782")… (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)