Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Il barbiere di Siviglia
PERFORMER: Roberto Servile, Sonia Ganassi, Ramon Vargas, Angelo RomeroHungarian Radio Chorus, Failoni CO, Budapest/Will Humburg
CATALOGUE NO: 8.660027/29 DDD
The Barber of Seville really needs to be seen as well as heard. It’s so much part of the theatrical tradition from which it sprang and the music is so precisely wedded to the stage business that sound alone can do it only partial justice. This budget-priced Naxos release is as successful as any recent full-priced issue in capturing its elusive combination of the genial, the zany and the manic whilst adhering to the letter of the score even if, despite its textual inauthenticity, one still turns to the ever-effervescent 1957 Callas/Gobbi/Galliera recording on EMI.

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Will Humburg proves a lively yet sensitive Rossinian, prone to drive the music hard when it should smile and relax but rarely guilty of dullness (as affected the recent EMI release), and the Failoni Chamber Orchestra of Budapest play for him with nimble precision and consistent brightness of tone. The singing, too, is uniformly excellent, though not perhaps as characterful as some individual interpretations of the past. Ramon Vargas is an agile if somewhat tense sounding Almaviva with a darkness of timbre resembling that of Roberto Servile’s buoyant and cleanly sung Figaro. Sonia Ganassi’s Rosina is cool but appealing, Franco de Grandis’s Basilio rather dry; but Angelo Romero’s Bartolo is splendid in every way, younger sounding than usual but able to communicate comedy without distorting the vocal line. Antony Bye