Rossini, Barbiere di Siviglia
Went back to the Novaya Opera tonight for Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Realized that I cannot remember having ever actually seen this opera before, although I know it well.
Initially, I thought it would be a disappointment, but the production, directed by the Australian opera director Elijah Moshinsky, grew on me during the course of the first act. Moshinsky used bright colors, as though out of an old Dick Tracy comic book, and backdrops of geometric shapes and optical illusions evoking a bizarre 1950s atmosphere. During the scenes which take place outdoors, which are most of the first scenes, he kept the stage dimly lit, and the cast and chorus had to walk around using flashlights. I did not understand this aspect, as it muted the colors and made the whole production come across as confused. But since most of the scenes take place indoors, where Moshinsky used bright lights, causing the colors to jump, the setting accentuated the operatic farce extremely well, and this turned into a fun production. His staging allowed for the cast of characters to ham it up to the fullest, and this worked – especially contrasted with last night’s director, who had too much going on providing distraction. Moshinsky clearly realized that there is a difference between making everyone on stage do things just to make them do things (as last night’s director clearly did, to justify his own existence on the planet) and actually making them do things for the purpose of enhancing the action of the opera.
The cast certainly enjoyed it, too. For the second night in a row, the lead tenor had a light, dry, and not overly pleasant voice (tonight: Aleksandr Bogdanov as Almaviva), but the others were all very good. Vasily Ladyuk, as Figaro, led the charge as the Factotum della Città. Yelena Tyerentyeva, as Rosina, also sounded and acted great, although, rather unfortunately, she periodically forgot her lines. Aleksey Antonov and Yevgeny Stavinskyas Basilio and Bartolo, provided strong singing and acting voices and much additional fun. The young conductor Vasily Valitov kept the orchestra alive and full of humor.