Friday, January 28, 2011

Il barbiere di Parigi

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, January 26 2011

Three protagonists of the show in Paris

Director ..... Emilio Sagi
Conductor ..... Jean-Christophe Spinosi

Il conte d'Almaviva ..... Bogdan Mihai
Figaro ..... Bruno Taddia
Rosina ..... Anna Stéphany
Don Bartolo ..... Tiziano Bracci
Don Basilio ..... Nicolas Courjal
Fiorello ..... Christian Helmer
Berta ..... Giovanna Donadini

Ensemble Matheus, Choeur du Châtelet

I don't know what kind of vibe exists between the artistic director of Théâtre du Châtelet and Emilio Sagi, but the fact is that every year one of only a few shows hosted by this house is directed by Sagi. While I liked his kitschy production of Die Feen [rocked by Christiane Libor, and amazingly conducted by Marc Minkowski!], unfortunately I cannot say the same thing about this Barbiere.

This is a 5 years old production premiered at Teatro Real in Madrid,  DVD-ed soon after, shown on the French natl TV, and countless times rerun on Mezzo TV. Why Châtelet purchased this production, rather than some other less media-exposed one, is beyond me.

It would be too cruel to compare it with a brilliant Barbiere given at Opéra Bastille every second year (also available on DVD.) The Sagi-show is not funny, the jokes are too naive, and is filled with the Broadway-shows tics: improvisations, dancing parts... In the second part it is colorful --lots of colors in the eyes of the crowd always works on the curtain calls-- but deep down there is nothing to retain from this production.

More than anything this show was supposed to be interesting because of Bogdan Mihai's Conte Almaviva. He was a baritone who converted to a brilliantly sounding tenor under the supervision of Mirella Freni [see this video!], and everyone seems to be gushing over him these days calling him a major wunderkind in the world of opera. I very much liked his singing at the premiere of Herheim's Rosenkavalier in Stuttgart, when I first time heard for him and realized he was a beloved tenor there.

And so, even though I knew the Sagi-show would be cheesy, I decided to go and listen to the live performances of the main singers, especially Mihai's.

I guess Bogdan was obliged to scale down his voice because Châtelet scheduled 5 shows in 8 days (sic!). In terms of intensity and volume he was still good, but nowhere near the level of Juan Diego Florez or Antonino Siragusa, for example. Instead, his technique and his trills are incomparable with anyone: he could outsings everyone in business -- including Cecilia Bartoli. Hopefully we will get to see more of him and in more convenient conditions for him to fully display the richness of his undeniable talent. Anna Stéphany was a totally new name for me. A beautifully colored mezzo, at ease with this role, who spared herself much less than Bogdan. Brava! But the most impressive of them all was Bruno Taddia, who was really giving his best. His scenic engagement is backed by strong singing and if we listened to a better sung "Largo al factotum", his overall Figaro sounded excellent. He definitely carried the show on his shoulders and the crowd at the end rewarded him with the loudest applause.

Jean-Christophe Spinosi got a chance to conduct this opera, after having been rejected by the musicians at La Scala last June. His orchestra started off not so well, but improved as the show went along and were actually quite good in the last part.

Three production photos:


Rosina and Almaviva

This is when the show is already over, and the crew play an extra choreography for the crowd --> Châtelet is definitely a music-hall...

My cc pic:
Stephany, Spinosi, Taddia, and Mihai


a short clip on France3 TV:

and a YT video with Juan Diego Florez irresistibly singing Cessa di piu resistere filmed in the same production but at the time it was premiered in Madrid.


  1. Well this production, with the giant-sized dotted swiss all over the place, has certainly made the rounds, I mean a-ROUND the world!

    Here is a clip of Nathan, JDF and JDD in Los Angeles:

  2. I loved that production when I saw it in Los Angeles with N Gunn, J Didonato and JDF. Not cheezy at all.

  3. Ha Laddie!

    Thomas, I believe you liked it for Joyce and JDF rather than for the quality of that particular production. To me this production is a giant unit for cheesiness in opera.