Rossini and the Amazing Technicolor Opera Production

I watched this version of The Barber of Seville last night. It’s the brightly colored one from the ROH from 2009, where Joyce DiDonato broke her foot and sang from a wheelchair.

It’s one of those performances that reveal, for me at least, the limits of how interesting Rossini is.

Here’s DiDonato singing “una voce poco fa”:

Listening to DiDonato sing this role is a thrill from beginning to end (and the rest of the cast are no slouches either) but while I’ve had this DVD for a while, I’ve watched it only twice, and one of those times was because a friend wanted to see it. So, maybe two and an eighth times if you count repeats of the good bits. It’s charming and funny and extremely well executed, even with JDD in a wheelchair (with a pink cast to match her costume) but I think I have limits with Il Barbiere. This is one of those performances that I want to say wow! and awesome! and all that because it is, and judging by the noise at the end the Covent Garden audience came to the same conclusion, but still, this is not an opera that I zone out thinking about. I’d go to see it live if the cast was anything like this, but I’m not sure I’m going to be scouring the library shelves this week for additional iterations of it.

4 thoughts on “Rossini and the Amazing Technicolor Opera Production

  1. I remember asking for and receiving , a Barber with Teresa Berganza for my 13th birthday. (Surely they must have already known by then!!) In my early opera-fan days, I went through quite a bit of Rossini (those were my Sills/Sutherland/Horne years, too. I wonder if there is a connection?). Not so much these days, though I do enjoy an occasional Cenerentola (Glyndebourne with Ruxandra Durose, Maxim Mironov, and Simone Alberghini).

    Looking at excerpts from this Barber performance, I think that if I’d been in the audience, I’d have been glad they did not send in an understudy (I usually hate when that happens!) However, I question whether this would be THE performance (even of our Yankee Diva) to commit to DVD.

    Speaking of Barbers, I recently got the Fritz Wunderlich/Hermann Prey/Bayerischen Stattsoper 1959 (mono/black and white) recording of “Der Barbier von Sevilla” that I am looking forward to viewing. I know it wont be a ground-breaking production, but it promises to be fun (I hope). Right now, however, I am working on coming up with 300-500 intelligent words about the Kupfer/Bayreuth Flying Dutchman.


    1. I went through a Sills/Sutherland/Horne phase too when I first got into opera. I remember just being so amazed that the human voice could do what Sills does in some of those recordings of Donzetti operas, for example – it was fantastic. And the overture to Roberto Devereux still makes me smile whenever i hear it. The very first opera-related CD I ever bought (I was much older than 13 – late bloomer, I guess!) was a collection of Mozart and Rossini arias sung by Berganza – I loved it.

      It’s odd about the wheelchair in this – bizarrely, it kind of works. Rosina is locked up by her guardian and she can’t get free, so she might as well be in a wheelchair with a broken leg too. Accidental Regie? I agree, though, it’s not utterly ideal. I’m not sure whether they went ahead with the DVD as a kind of gimmick (Joyce in a wheelchair and still fantastic!) or in spite of the accident.


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