Friday, July 06, 2007

Figaro, figaro, Fiiiiiiiiigaaaaro!

Rossini knew what he was doing when he wrote the signature aria for Figaro right at the beginning of his opera 'The Barber of Seville'. Figaro firmly plants himself in the minds of the audience as a wheeler, dealer and fixer!

Surprisingly, it was the first time I had seen the opera. It was also the first time I saw anything at the Sydney Opera House. It was brilliant!

Set in a 1930s health spa, it involved not only the singing protagonists, but also a number of silent characters, including a retired colonel, two injured bullfighters, a mad painter, and a lovely little elderly factotum who shuffled about in that memorable way of the parking attendant in 'Mon Oncle'. I had not realised the story was so involved (having only seen the play in the Russian Drama Theatre in Vilnius, in Russian), with Count Almaviva disguising himself as all sorts of characters.

From the start it was clear that Figaro (the wonderful Jose Carbo) had everything in control, and although he did not have that many singing parts after the first aria, he sorted out everything, and for everyone. The surreal and rather psychedelic set contributed to a general air of wackiness (in the blurb the production is, justifiably, described as a mixture of Antonio Gaudi and the Marx Brothers). There were lots of lovely little, and very funny, details - and the singing and musicianship were just grand, full of joy and enthusiasm. I wish the Vienna Staatsoper produced shows like this!


bratsche said...

Gosh I'm playing pit for Barber of Seville in a couple of weeks... gargh I would have loved to see this production. I can tell you the violas don't get much interesting stuff to play though.