Monday, December 17, 2012

The Barber of Seville Preview 2012-2013

Isabel Leonard leads the cast of The Barber of Seville in Bartlett Sher's hit production. The production part of the Met's Holiday season presentations. 

The Production
Bartlett Sher's production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia returns to the Met. The production which premiered in 2006 has become one the Met's best new productions since the inception of the Gelb era. The production was revived last year and continues to be refreshing. It is made up of doorways, trees and an anvil. It has a walkway in front of the orchestra which can sometimes get in the way of the acoustics but helps to bring some intimate moments Critics have called delightful and one of the highlights of Peter Gelb.The revival this year may be one of the least interesting revivals but what is intriguing is what cuts will be made for the English version. The production which flows so well will most likely be reworked for the cuts and for the new text.     

Isabel Leonard returns to the role of Rosina. After bowing as Stefano in Romeo et Juliette in 2007, Leonard has finally been given the chance to shine at the Met. Earlier this year Leonard experimented with Thomas Ades The Tempest, a role she excelled in but hardly showed her star power. However when Leonard returns to the role of Rosina, audiences will be charmed by her comic timing and her virtuoso singing. Last year when she made her Role debut in the role Leonard was the first non superstar Rosina to sing the role in Bartlett Sher's comedic production. The role suited her well and while many will complain that she avoids the high notes, critics were more than happy.  Critic's stated that "Leonard's voice added elegance and delicacy to the rare intimate moments of the opera." They also stated she could be  the flirtatious, adventurous, scheming Viper that she describes in her first aria "Una Voce Poco Fa"and still be the young girl clinging to the dream of love." It will be interesting to here her sing the role in English but if her interpretation still holds from last year, Leonard could easily start adding her name to the legendary Rosinas.

Alek Shrader made an impressive debut at the Met earlier this season in the role of Ferdinand in The Tempest. His smooth lyric voice provided refreshment to Ades, monotonous score but the role was not substantial enough to show what Shrader is capable of. Shrader possesses a light lyric voice suitable for Rossini, Donizetti and light Bellini. He has made impressive runs of the Elixir of Love and The Magic Flute at the San Francisco Opera garnering raves by the critics. They have called his voice bright and healthy. They have raved about his sweetness and his tonal colors as well as his focused tone. Rossini's Count is one of the harder bel canto roles in the canon and it should be interesting to hear it sung in English for the first time. Shrader who has experience singing in English should add some interesting nuances to the role. If his impressive debut is any sign of what Shrader is capable of doing perhaps Shrader may give certain superstars a run for their money.   

Rodion Pogossov returns to his signature role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville. Having made his debut in the role of Figaro in 2002, Pogossov has made the role a trademark in his repertoire. However he is not the definitive Figaro of our time. Last years when Pogossov entered the stage he sounded tentative. His Largo al Factotum was nothing special but once he warmed up he had a solid performance. Critics stated that his "His Figaro was an overconfident, greedy schemer, but still tremendously likable at the same time." They also stated  "he swept through the performance with security, strength, and tremendous comic timing." It will be interesting to hear him in the role in English but Pogossov will a solid member to the cast.

Yves Abel returns to the podium to conduct the opera of his debut. In 1994 Abel made his Met debut in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and conducted it again in 2002. Since then he has led the orchestra in a number of works including last years revival of La Fille du Regiment. Abel has been praised for his eloquent conducting and for keeping performances brisk and energetic. Yves Abel has also been recognized for giving his own voice to each work he conducts and being detail oriented. His Barber conducting should be a highlight to this years production. 


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