Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Barber of Seville at the MET

On Saturday October 1, my wife Paula and I headed off to the MET for what proves to be an excitinng season.  We were so pleased to see a sold out performance with many young people in attendence.  It was quite a diverse audience with the aged, physically challenged and occasional young children in attendence.  We had seen this production previously with Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Florez who always charm the New York fans.  To our glorious surprise, the mezzo-soprano Isobel Leonard and the Swedish bartone, Peter Mattei stole show.  Leonard as Rosina and Mattei as Figaro brought the house down with beautiful singing, humor and assurance in this utter frace by Rossini. 

This production by Bartlette Sher is well known at the MET and features moving dooors, a cart, orange trees (a la Seville) and complete with the docile and well behaving donkey. 

The ensemble consisted of: 
Conductor: Maurizio Benini
Rosina: Isabel Leonard
Count Almaviva: Javier Camarena
Figaro: Peter Mattei
Dr. Bartolo: Maurizio Muraro
Don Basilio: Paata Burchuladze

If there was a breakout star here it was Leonard who amply filled the shoes of Diana Damrau and Elina Garanca in preceding years.  The MET has had to scramble to have the orchestra led by a cadre of conductors.  Benini did an ample job and has not had the harsh criticism launched at him similar to that of Marco Armillato, an Italian expert who led the opening night of Anna Bolena starring Anna Netrebko. 

We were pleasantly surpised to meet a young couple seated next to us in the balcony.  She a chemist at Boehringer Ingelheim and he working at Agios in Central Square in Cambridge, MA.  This was his first opera and a great choice at that.  She was from Denmark and told us of the beautiful new opera house in Copenhagen that we had seen on a tour.  She suggested that the foyer is exquisite and worth a visit. 

These two clips demonstrate the vitality and life in this production.

On the way home, we watched the DVD of the Salzburg 2005 Marriage of Figaro starring the allstar cast of Actors: Anna Netrebko, Dorothea Roschmann, Ildebrando d'Arcangelo, Bo Skovhus, and Christine Schafer
The conductor was  Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the somwhat avante garde production was directted by  Claus Guth.  On the DVD are bonus segments that reveal the artistry and committment of the artists to this production.  I refer specifically to the comments made by Anna Netrebko in her efforts to get inside the character, be responsive to the conductor and inclinations of the director. 

I would highly recommend this to any fan of updated operas. 

Of course we are looking forward to Anna Bolena with Netrebko as well as her solo recital at Carnegie Hall with a series of lieder of Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov , and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky