The two 'Summer' Barbiere
differ from one another and from the much discussed version
presented in the opera house last Winter. One is a joint production with Teatro Massimo di Palermo: a travelling Barbiere out of a big
fifteen ton truck; the libretto and the score are
simplified, the entire performance lasts
about one hour and sets are
The stage direction is by Fabio Cherstich and the imaginative sets
by Gianluigi Toccafondo. Carlo Donadio and Roberto De Maio alternate in conducting a
drawn from the Teatro dell'Opera orchestra. The singers come
from the Teatro dell'Opera academy. The truck moves, with the opera, from
square to square in low income areas of Rome. People bring
their own chair and, at no charge, get a taste of what opera is. It is
very successful. The
new mayor of Rome was at the first performance on 16 July 2016 and
People are running to the squares where this travelling Barbiere
is being performed.
The experiment is not
entirely new: from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the years before World War II,
semi-professional companies travelled all over Italy with simplified
productions of operas to be
staged in small town squares. They charged low prices and gave a flavor
of what can be seen in the cities and in real theatres. Now
the purpose is
different: to attract a new audience for performances 'at popular
prices' in the large opera house.
The other Barbiere,
a grand production in the open air theatre at
the Terme di Caracalla seating 2,400 people, is not entirely new either.
It was programmed for the 2014
when, due to wildcat strikes, only a couple of performances were staged.
By word-of-mouth, those two performances pleased the audience. Thus on 18
July 2016, when it was unveiled again, the open air theatre was full to
the hilt and the box office takings set a record: 182,000 euros for a
single performance at prices considerably lower than those in the Winter
The musical part is also
granted that a large open air space
cannot have the acoustics of a
seven-hundred-seat theatre like the Teatro Argentina where Il Barbiere
had its 1816 debut. Yves Abel's baton was
swift. The singers were young and
the three protagonists not
well known in Rome: Giorgio Misseri as Almaviva, Teresa Iervolino as Rosina and
Mario Cassi as Figaro.
Cassi is a good baritone and
an excellent actor, and
he delivers the vocal acrobatics the role requires well.
Iervolino is an
amphibian mezzo (like
Isabella Colbran, Rossini's lover when Il
Barbiere was composed); she
can deliver an excellent coloratura,
easily reach acute and slide down gently to a grave alto register.
Misseri should control his vibrato
better, and sing for a
while in small theatres; he did not sing the impervious ariaCessa di più resistere. Paolo
Bordogna (Bartolo), Mikhail Korobeinikov (Basilio) and Eleonora de la
Peña (Berta) are
young but already veterans of their roles.