Saturday, August 06, 2011
The Twin Barbers of Seville
San Francisco Opera's Merola summer training program is presenting Rossini's "Barber of Seville" at Herbst Theatre with two separate casts in four total performances, ending tomorrow on Sunday afternoon. The press was strongly encouraged to attend Thursday and Friday evening's performances so they could write about all the student singers, but I was busy rehearsing for the upcoming production of "Four Saints in Three Acts," and wasn't able to make it to the opening.
That turned out for the best since "Barber of Seville" is an opera that has become boring through repetition for me, and the production design was literally painful to look at, with a full wall of green glitter tinsel replaced at times by a wall of gold glitter tinsel, a decorating scheme that wouldn't be out of place in an Eastern European brothel. The singers were mostly wonderful and rose above the production, including Mark Diamond as Figaro in the first photo and Renee Rapier as Rosina above.
There were however music writers with infinitely more dedication and stamina than myself who saw both casts on Thursday and Friday evening, including Axel Feldheim above who warned me cryptically at the beginning of the evening that looking at the stage might be "painful," but that he loved the opera and some of the performances. Click here for an account of the first cast and here for the second cast.
Charlise the Opera Tattler also wrote about Thursday and Friday as did the Beast in the Jungle.
Cedric Westphal above was also a Barber completist, and though his thoughts on the two casts haven't been posted yet at SFist, the review by Janos Gereben, the fastest deadline writer in the West and quite possibly the East is up already at San Francisco Classical Voice. The consensus seems to be that both casts were unusually strong, and views about the production varied according to taste. (Production photos by Kristen Loken.)