What a delight to go to the opera house among so many children, each bustling with excitement for what I can only imagine was the first time for many. The Metropolitan Opera's new and abridged version of Rossini's comic opera The Barber of Seville - sung in the English-language is guaranteed fun for the whole family. Not only is the opera comic and sung in English, it is also cut down to only two hours, including the intermission. All of this combined makes for great holiday entertainment for anyone on your list.
Of course for any opera aficionado this production may be sacrificing the essence of the opera experience but J.D. McClatchy's translation is smart and creative. With the amount of text in this opera McClatchy has done a great job of not just translating it but using modern vernacular within the translation while still maintaining rhyming and syllables within the lines. Both the translations and the trimming are done without huge sacrificing of the musical integrity of the piece. Most of the trimming comes from the recapitulations in individual arias and some scene work but nothing that most audience members would even be aware had been made.
The plot follows the Count Almaviva in his efforts to win over Rosina, the beautiful ward of Doctor Bartolo. Almaviva is in competition against Bartolo himself for the hand of Rosina, but with the help of Figaro, the cunning barber, manages to sneak around and marry Rosina before Doctor Bartolo gets his chance. The farcical nature of the show is heightened with the design elements for the production- a combination of nine movable doors, a balcony on wheels as well as explosions, a larger than life anvil, and a very creative thunderstorm.
The entire cast gave an outstanding opening performance. Everything from the diction to the comedic timing was spot on. Isabel Leonard played a perfect Rosina with meticulous nuance and crystal clear tone. Leonard's effortless coloratura work was perfect for the part performing the familiar "In my Heart I hear a voice" ("Una voce poco fa") with ease and beauty.
John Del Carlo played the familiar role of Dr. Bartolo with perfect arrogance. A role he has played for years, the challenge must have been completely relearning the show in a different language. Despite the language change however, the role was sung with expertise.
Rodion Pogossov plays a great conspiring barber with expert diction along side the dashing Alek Shrader as Count Almaviva. Shrader's light coloratura tenor voice sang the role with great prowess.
There are six remaining performances of this special holiday version of The Barber of Seville, including a matinee this Saturday and an 11 a.m. performance on Dec. 26. Be sure to catch this limited run of a Metropolitan Opera family treat.
Scott Frost is a Production and Stage Manager and a Freelance Costume Designer. In addition to being a theatrical manager and designer he currently works for Music Theatre International, the leader in the theatrical licensing industry, specializing in Broadway, Off-Broadway and West End musicals. |