[Met Performance] CID:192420

Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Metropolitan Opera House, Sun, November 25, 1962

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (286)
Gioachino Rossini | Cesare Sterbini
Robert Merrill

Giulietta Simionato

Count Almaviva
Dino Formichini

Dr. Bartolo
Fernando Corena

Don Basilio
Cesare Siepi

Helen Vanni

George Cehanovsky

Alessio De Paolis

Rudolf Mayreder

Thomas Schippers

Cyril Ritchard

Eugene Berman

Stage Director
Patrick Tavernia

Il Barbiere di Siviglia received nineteen performances this season.
At all performances of Rossini's opera this season, the aria sung by Rosina in the Lesson Scene was Contro un cor.

Review 1:

Ross Parmenter in The New York Times
Opera: “Barbiere di Siviglia” Revived

After an absence of four seasons, Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" returned to the Metropolitan Opera repertory last night, It came back in very good shape. The familiar features were as good as ever, and the new elements were fine.

The production, which was designed by Eugene Berman for the 1953-54 season, is still handsome and atmospherically Spanish. Cyril Ritchard's production (now being directed by Patrick Tavernia) is still rich in comic invention. And what struck one about this cast was that its comic skill was as high as its musical competence.

Thomas Schippers, who led the work for the first time at the Met, was one reason for the success. Under his leadership, the music had an airy lightness. Yet at the same time as it was delicate and vivacious, it was also sweetly lyrical. And there was such a justness of balance that the singers never had to push to be heard.

There were also three other new elements besides the conductor. In the case of the Rosina the novelty was almost a double one. Not only had Giulietta Simionato never sung the role at the house before, but being a mezzo soprano (the voice the role originally called for) she provided a Rosina who was different in more than vocal timbre.

Jennie Tourel was a previous mezzo who sang Rosina at the Met, but that was in1944. And even though Victoria de los Angeles sang the original mezzo voice line in 1953, she was still a soprano. So the darkness and richness of Miss Simionato's voice seemed unusual, for customarily the part is sung by coloratura sopranos.

The lower voice did more than change the musical texture of the piece. It also made Rosina emerge as a more sympathetic figure. Often she seems like a heartless twerp with a bird-voice. But this time Miss Simionato was a woman of warmth and character. One was with her all the way. And one admired her naturalness and comic finesse almost as much as her vocal agility.

Then there was Dino Formichini as Almaviva, also singing the role for the first time. His voice had the sweetness and flexibility that the part needed, particularly in the serenades of the first scene, but he also had something not always vouchsafed to tenors with romantic voices: the gift of being irresistibly comic. And he was just as good in his disguise as the sanctimonious singing teacher in the third act, as he had been as the swaggering and slightly drunken soldier of the second.

He was able to hold his own in such expert company as Cesare Siepi (the Basilio) and Fernando Corona (the Dr. Bartolo). And this is saying a good deal, for they are wonderfully comic, too. To say nothing of having splendidly sonorous voices.

The cast was further strengthened by having Robert Merrill in the title role. He was in excellent voice and he sang his way through it with gaiety and charm. Helen Vanni, too, taking over the Berta from the indisposed Margaret Roggero, also had a success. It was her first time in the role.

To round off the cast there was Alessio de Paolis as the Sergeant, George Cehanovsky as Fiorello and Rudolf Mayreder as Ambrogio. And a further benefit was that everyone acted with a uniformity of style. It was a delightful performance.

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