Rossini: II barbiere di Siviglia

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

WORKS: II barbiere di Siviglia
PERFORMER: Lanza, Kasarova, Macias, Chausson; Zurich Opera House Chorus & Orchestra/Nello Santi;dir. Grischa Asagaroff (Zurich Opera House, 2001)
This Zurich Barber’ is hot off the press: an April 2001 performance reaches DVD format with impressive speed. In all other senses it’s a tepid affait – pleasant enough as an evening’s thcatte entertainment that was not really worth putting out on film. The comedy, dependent on joke sets (in the shape of Spanish fans) and props (motorbike plus sidecar, spivvy clothes – this is yet another Thirties-ish updating), tends toward the facetious, and the singing is mostly ordinary.


Exception to the latter rule is provided by the much-admired Bulgarian mezzo Vesselina Kasarova — it’s presumably for her fans that this was published at all. The dark vocal timbre, fruity yet at times oddly metallic, is a taste that a few, this reviewer included, have not fully acquired; her Rosina lacks real charm, though not moments of pathos. But she’s capable of startling virtuosity, and certainly commands the stage.


Otherwise, we have Manuel Lanza, Reinaldo Macias and Carlos Chausson, lively actors all three, but Spanish or Latin-American singers who fail to live up to the long Iberian tradition of Rossini excellence; the veteran Nicolai Ghiaurov, once one of the great bass voices, as a rather saddening Basilio; and sometimes sluggish conducting by Santi, another veteran. Better, if older, Barbers- the 1977 La Scala/Abbado (DG) and 1988 Bartoli (Arthaus) — have already reached DVD. Max Loppert