Thursday, April 16, 2009

At the Opera

By Mitchell

This week the Minnesota Opera brings its 2008-09 season to a close with its acclaimed production of Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). From the famous overture to the justifiably happy ending, Rossini's delightful farce is one of opera's most accessible pieces, the perfect choice for first-timers who might be surprised to realize they know more opera than they thought. Just because the music's familiar, don't think that means it isn't also brilliant, particularly the patter songs that, in their orchestral complexity, nearly manage to put Gilbert & Sullivan to shame. Hopefully we'll have a report upcoming on tonight's performance, but in the meantime here's a preview for those of you who can't be there:

Bugs Bunny Rabbit of Seville Uploaded by ThrowbackForums

UPDATE: OK, here's the skinny on last night:
  1. What a delightful production. A bit over the top, which is just the way Barber ought to be. The comedy was very broadly played, without quite drifting into slapstick. The staging and direction were spot on as well. This is a much beloved production of Barber, which, of course, is why it's being retired after this year.
  2. I'm reminded once again of just how lousy a place the Ordway is for opera. Up in the balcony, the orchestra sounded terrific, their sound floating all the way to the ceiling. Too bad the place isn't constructed so the singers' voices can do the same.
  3. That being said, I thought Figaro's voice was not quite as strong as it should have been.
  4. Neither was Count Almaviva's. Fiorello's was much stronger.
  5. Rosina had real spunk. Reminded me of Roberta Peters (although not quite in the voice...)
  6. The bass playing Don Basilio once again stole the show, as was the case when we saw it here in 2001.
  7. Man, Rossini could really write music, couldn't he?
  8. Every time I hear the overture, I think of Bugs Bunny (see above) and smile.
  9. Unfortunately, the high school punks sitting behind us have no appreciation of music. Cretins. All they could do was count the minutes, and this is for an opera that runs under three hours. Oh well, if even one of them comes away with a greater appreciation of opera, it's worth it.
  10. They probably don't know who Bugs Bunny is, either.
  11. But who's complaining? What a terrific way to end the season, and proof once again that Il barbiere di Siviglia really is one of the great pieces in opera.

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