I watched the premiere of an online concert version of Barber of Seville, available until June 12th.
It’s semi-staged, meaning that you watch the cast perform the opera in formal attire, Figaro miming shaving Bartolo, the lights flashing for the storm music in the last act. But even so it feels like a huge step forward considering that one of the last live operas I saw before the pandemic was the COC Barber way back on January 20th 2020.
Oh my what a breath of fresh air, to be able to see this light-hearted opera again.
Hugo Laporte gives us a Figaro with a lovely full tone, and the ability to do the comedy even in his tux. Sarah Bissonnette as Rosina is a genuine mezzo with a wonderful colour, bold from top to bottom of her range, totally believable. Doug MacNaughton’s Bartolo handles all the quick patter, with a beautiful sound throughout. Alain Coulombe’s Basilio may not be the wackiest you’ve ever seen, but it’s well sung.
And then there’s the Count. I’ve missed the voice of tenor Andrew Haji.
Haji gave us genuine bel canto, smooth as silk from top to bottom complete with multiple high Cs. The voice is glorious.
The adaptation uses a narrator, leaving out much of the recitative. Although it may have been intended to save time, the resulting opera (at two hours and 15 minutes) is close in length to the COC Barber, once you remove the intermission. I would rather have the recit, especially in the scenes involving Bartolo and Figaro.
Even so wow, it’s a blast hearing this opera again, especially with Haji. While I found the overture a bit slow, the musical direction from Jean-Michel Malouf was excellent, especially in the ensembles, where we heard everyone. Rossini was well-served.
The link will be there until June 12th.