Last we night heard a performance of Lyric Opera’s spritely production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville, the last of our 2007-2008 subscription. The production—sets, costumes, and so on—was the same René Magritte-inspired one that we’ve been seeing of the last 18 years or so. Mediterranean colors, cartoon sets, white-cloud dotted blue backdrop, chairs floating in mid-air. If I’m not mistaken the first time we heard this production a young Frank Lopardo was wonderful as our Almaviva.
This particular performance was probably the most buffo performance of Barber I’ve ever seen and I must say I did like that treatment. Our Figaro, Nathan Gunn’s, energetic, athletic performance of the famous Largo al factotum set the tone for the rest of the production. I thought he was marvelous through out as was Andrew Shore, our Dr. Bartolo, who played Falstaff earlier in the season. Their scenes together were enormous fun.
John Osborn sang Count Almaviva. His is a light, highly ornamented tenor and I honestly thought that in places the ornamentation interfered with the musicality of his singing. I thoguht his Act I, Scene 1 was rather muddled in that way but his performance improved considerably as the opera progressed. His duets and trios were quite wonderful. Joyce DiDonato, singing Rosina, had a similarly highly ornamented style with a high degree of technical proficiency, sometimes almost mechanical. Her high notes were really glorious, her lower register quite dark.
All in all this was an entertaining evening at the opera. Not the highlight of the season but a highly entertaining evening at the opera.
Ranking the 2007-2008 season: Julius Caesar, Falstaff, Eugene Onegin (tied with Falstaff), Barbiere, Die Frau ohne Schatten, La Traviata, La bohème, Doctor Atomic. Advantage Julius Caesar but Falstaff and Eugene Onegin weren’t far behind.