Seems I like Barbiere more than I thought! Not quite sure where this idea that didn't came from. Probably the preponderance of male roles. And Rossini can get a little tiring in his constant Rossininess. But this afternoon's Met broadcast of Barbiere was great fun. Everybody singing well and enjoying themselves, which helps a lot in something like this. I only wish I could have seen as well as heard it: it's frustrating listening to a comedy, and hearing the audience laugh and laugh, with no idea of what on earth is happening on stage. Nevertheless, there were a few moments when even without visual aids, I was laughing. And I guess I know it better than I thought, as I managed to more or less keep track of the plot without a libretto to follow. Although I'm still a little unclear as to how they manage to get Don Basilio to go along with the scarlet fever ploy.
The singing was great. Katarina Karnéus (who I was particularly interested to hear after Amanda's recital review at Household Opera) was not exactly your typical Rosina. For one she sounded about 20 years older than you'd expect from Rosina. It wasn't that the voice sounded too old, but as a character, she sounded much too mature and knowing: more like the Marschallin than a mischievous Spanish girl. But leaving that quibble aside, I liked her a lot. I didn't think I necessarily would at the beginning - her 'Una voce poco fa' was all over the show and didn't do a great deal for me. But by the time we came to 'Dunque io son' she seemed much more settled and sounded absolutely gorgeous. The boys were uniformly good, and all excellent comedians. Matthew Polenzani made an elegant and lyrical Almaviva, and cracked me up in the singing lesson scene. Franco Vassalio was a wonderful Figaro - hard to believe his Met début was only a week previous to this performance. Ferruccio Furlanetto's Don Basilio was brilliant in 'La calunnia', and Carlos Chausson was a surprisingly appealing Don Bartolo. Perhaps the best compliment I can give all these boys is the very fact that, listening without a libretto and being the novice that I am when it comes to the male voice, I had absolutely no difficulty telling who was singing when, and gained enough of an individual impression of each to able to write about them all here without a problem.
It was a very nice Barbiere indeed. I can never feel entirely happy at the end of this one: I can't help but think of what lies in store for Rosina. But I have to say that Rossini does his absolute best to help us forget the future: the Count is so sympathetic, and the conclusion so joyous, it's hard to imagine anything but a happily ever after life for all concerned.