Joseph A. Newsome | Burlington, NC United States | 04/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Naxos label has done a wonderful job of providing opera-lovers with inexpensive recordings of both repertory and rare operas. This recording of Rossini's perennial "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" sets a standard which will be hard to sustain. The orchestra, a group of players from the Hungarian State Opera, are lively and alert to the musical presentation desired by conductor Humburg. The soloists are, with few exceptions, wonderful. Roberto Servile in the title role is as good as modern baritones get in the role--he sings well and is having a marvelous time of it. Franco de Grandis sings splendidly as Don Basilio. Sonia Ganassi, singing Rosina, brings good coloratura technique to Rossini's sometimes fiendish writing, but somehow lacks those indefinable qualities which make a great Rosina. Ramon Vargas, however, is the real star of this set. In order to find a Count this well-sung, one must find the RCA recording with Cesare Valletti or the Decca with Ugo Benelli. Vargas has a larger, more tradition lyric tenor voice than either of his prestigious predecessors, but he sings the coloratura with exhilarating ease...even in the treacherous and oft-omitted "Cessa di piu resistere." A marvelous performance, and practically a steal at this rock-bottom price! Buy it!"
A refreshing and vital contribution to this Rossini masterpi
N. Freidin | Huntington, WV | 05/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Will Humburg's direction of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia is the most refreshing recording of this masterpiece in decades. Recorded complete, with mostly unknown singers (Ramon Vargas excepted), this version brings out the lightness and sheer joy of the score. The singers are first rate vocal actors, and truly funny. Even the 'special effects', mostly the opening and slamming of creaky doors, brings a chuckle to the listener. This is an ensemble opera, and the interjections during the arias, the verve of the performances, gives one the feeling of being at a live show. Humburg, with his Hungarian chamber orchestra, keeps up the frenetic pace most skilfully. The sound is excellent.
Forget the big names, Callas, de los Angeles, Bartoli, Prey, Domingo, etc... this is the recording which really conveys the fun intended in this opera. And with the Naxos sound, and price, one could hardly wish for more !"
Jose Miguel Poncela Ramos | Spain | 06/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've heard many performances, live and recorded, of this inmortal Rossini's work, and I must say that, as a studio recording, to me this is one of the best availables.
Ramon Vargas is one of the most famous lyric tenors of the present and those days (it was recorded in 1992) he was young, and really fresh-soundig in this repertoire (try his first belcanto recital CD in the label Clavés). He sounds marvelous with an excelent management of the agilities in his role of Almaviva. He sings the very famous aria: 'Cesa de piu resistire' in way that only Juan Diego Florez can match today. The reputation of Sonia Ganassi has grown notabily since she recorded this role years ago, and now she is recognized as one of the best mezzos for this kind of repertoire, and she was superb yet in this set. The veteran Angelo Romero sound very much like Enzo Dara and is the real star of the performance with his funny old-fashioned-but-stilysh singing. Roberto Servile was a bright promise in begining of the 90's as a lyric baritone, but his carreer was then not so brilliant. Anyway here he sounds fresh, with beauty light voice and spirited ways. Franco de Grandis had a respectable career in the 80's and 90's, recording with Karajan or Muti.
On the other hand, the underrated Will Humburg made an amazing and very musical work managing and conducting the recitatives becoming them the real engine of the performance. I've never heard before (but in the old Callas's set in EMI) such intensity in the dialogues and recitative parts... even sometimes sounds like an old screw-ball comedy. Complete partiture. Almost Alberto Zedda's revision.
Youthful, funny and theatrical perfomance, with today starry singers in his prime."
A fun cd to have
bunburina | United States | 10/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Naxos made this cd about 10 years ago. Nowadays, there are not too many studio recordings of complete operas. The record companies just do not want to make the investment. Instead, they are pushing the likes of Andrea Bocelli, who, for goodness sake, is the "most famous opera singer in the US". What an oxymoron. Therefore, this gem really should be cherished. Ramon Vargas, the best lyric tenor at the present, is outstanding as Count Almaviva. The voice is just beautiful, agile and youthful. Mr. Vargas is always sensitive to the music. His musical portray of the Count is very elegant. The surprising part is "Pace E Gioia Sia Con Voi". It is hilarious. The rest of the singers all do a fine job making it a wonderful, fun filled performance. This cd is a must-have."
Great Performance and Recording, But No English Libretto
D. Nix | 07/21/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I actually prefer listening to this CD set of Rossini's The Barber of Seville over my former favorite, conducted by Lopez-Cobos, on the Teldec label. (However, Lopez-Cobos' version of Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri is still my favorite.)Despite what another reviewer here says, the other cast members besides Ramon Varges as Count Almaviva range from above average to excellent. Why, to my ears, Roberto Seville sounds outstanding as Figaro! (Better than Hagegard, conducted by Lobos-Cobez.) I love his "Largo al factotum della citta," which is full of pizzazz and cleverness. ("Fiii-gaa-ro! Fiii-gaa-ro! Figaro-figaro-figaro-figaro-figaro... !") And the orchestral accompaniment is lively and expressive.Generally, I've been impressed with the budget opera sets released by Naxos. And a few of them have even earned multiple awards from various professional reviewers; namely, Wagner's The Flying Duchman (Steinburg, ORF Symphony Orchestra), Rossini's The Barber of Seville (Humburg, Failoni Chamber Orchestra), Rossini's Tancredi (Zedda, Collegium Instrumentale Brugense), Mozart's The Magic Flute (Halasz, Failoni Orchestra), Beethoven's Fidelio (Halasz, Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia), and Debussy's Pelleas Et Melisande (Casadesus, Orchestre National de Lille Region).While there are no superstar singers on these sets, nor superstar conductors, the singing and the conducting are excellent, and so is the modern recorded sound. These opera sets are many steps above those released by other budget labels, most of which contain old, decrepit recordings.Even so, I'm disappointed with the lack of english translations in the librettos. Mind you, the booklets enclosed with the Naxos sets are better than the thin leaflets enclosed in most budget sets, since the Naxos booklets have full synopses -- in english, too! -- that are keyed to each and every track on the CD's. This greatly aids you in following along with the storyline and music. But the lyrics, which are just as important, are only given in the language that the opera was originally sung; i.e., Itallian, German, or French.Too bad. Myself, I'd pay and extra dollar or two for these Naxos sets if they had librettos with full english translations.For the Naxos opera sets listed above, I'd give them 4 or 5 stars, based on their fabulous performances, conducting, and sound quality -- but without librettos fully translated in english, I give them only 3 stars."