[Met Performance] CID:224320

Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, January 23, 1971

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (335)
Gioachino Rossini | Cesare Sterbini
Sherrill Milnes

Marilyn Horne

Count Almaviva
Enrico Di Giuseppe

Dr. Bartolo
Fernando Corena

Don Basilio
Giorgio Tozzi

Jean Kraft

Raymond Gibbs

Nico Castel

Peter Sliker

Thomas Schippers

Cyril Ritchard

Eugene Berman

Stage Director
Patrick Tavernia

Il Barbiere di Siviglia received eight performances this season.
In the Lesson Scene, Horne sang Tanti affetti from La Donna del Lago by Rossini.
From February 19, 1954 until this performance all Rosinas had sung Contro un cor, the aria the composer had originally written for this episode.
Photograph of Marilyn Horne as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Louis Mélançon/Metropolitan Opera.

Review 1:

Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times
A Pert Marilyn Horne Stars in Met’s “Barber”

It was Marilyn Horne's night at the Metropolitan Opera. Up to now she has been sharing the spotlight in "Norma" with her colleague and good friend, Joan Sutherland, On Saturday evening she appeared as Rosina in "II Barbiere di Siviglia," and this time she was on her own as the mezzo-soprano star in the production.

And she is a star. She sang a better Rosina than the Metropolitan Opera has heard since the days of Bidu Sayao, and this of course was an entirely different kind of sound, for Miss Horne is a mezzo-soprano (as contrasted to Sayao's high soprano) and was singing the role as originally written, for low voice.

As expected, she introduced some of her own cadenzas and other ornaments. But she did not make too big a thing of them. Her concept was total theater, and she sang a Rosina in which word and action were just as important as sheer voice.

She proved to be a pert Rosina — pretty, amusing, enough of an actress to hold her own with such scene-stealers as Fernando Corena and Giorgio Tozzi. And this is a slapstick, horesplay kind of production that encourages scene-stealing.

Even if she was not in her very best voice on Saturday, she was still miles above anybody who has sung the role in recent years. Her coloratura was neat and accurate, she has a rapid and well-focused trill, her range is unusually wide, and her top was used to good effect. Nor did she exploit those "bass" notes of hers, a habit she used to have and has fortunately dropped. Now her registers are seamless.

It should be added that Miss Horne's diction was exemplary. The young lady is not only a great singer: she also is a superior musician. She should be singing a wide variety of roles at the Metropolitan. The Princess Eboli in "Don Carlo" will do for a starter.

In the Lesson Scene the interpolated aria that Miss Home chose was "Tanti Affetti" from Rossini's "La Donna del Lago. "It brought down the house, as it should have. This was stylish, brilliant singing.

With such experienced operatives as Mr. Corena, Mr. Tozzi and Sherrill Milnes backing her up, this had to be a good show. All of those redoubtable singers were having a good time. Sometimes they carried things too far, but there is a tradition of horseplay in “Il Barbiere," and nobody has ever accused that opera of being similar to the “St. Matthew Passion.” When really funny singers kid around, the Rossini opera is that much more fun. Unfortunately the Metropolitan Opera direction, especially in the police scenes, has all the subtlety of a Ritz Brothers film.

In addition to Miss Home, the cast had another newcomer in a major role. Enrico DiGiuseppe was heard as Almaviva. He is a good, reliable tenor who got better as he went along. The first part of the opera saw a veil over his voice when he let it out, but by the last act he was singing clearly and smoothly. Jean Kraft, making her first appearance as Berta, sang her one aria very well.

Thomas Schippers conducted, He and Miss Home could have used additional rehearsal time. She had some ideas about tempos and tempo fluctuations that did not always coincide the conductor’s beat. But let's not quibble too much. Vocally this is a resounding "Barbiere di Siviglia." What a pity that it was not this cast, which was brought to Paris a few years ago!

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