Der Barbier von Sevilla (1973) Poster

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A Great First (or second, or thirtieth) Opera
owen-1827 August 2002
If I had to recommend to someone who had never seen an opera an opera film, it would be this one. Here's what it has going for it: 1) It's a short opera, more the length of a feature film 2) The music is easy to assimilate, no difficult harmonics here 3) It's funny 4) the cast is excellent.

Hermann Prey is a great Figaro, and most of this cast is terrific.

This is a usually showpiece opera for sopranos, but Teresa Berganza is upstaged by the two villains, Enzo Dara and Paolo Montarsolo, who are nothing short of delightful in their blustering incompetence. Luigi Alva sings with style and flair, and you get to see the young Claudio Abbado with 70's hair leading members of the La Scala Orchestra.

A couple of points for new listeners: Rossini's music features two things that you'll hear a lot in this opera: 1) vocal ornamentation, where the singer will put a lot of "frills" on the notes and 2) the music will often be increasing in volume (Rossini is noted for his"crescendos")

If you liked this one, you'll want to see the other Ponnelle video, "The Marriage of Figaro", also with Hermann Prey as Figaro. I would have recommended "Marriage" instead of "Barber" for beginners, except that the four hour length of "Marriage" might be too much for first timers.
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My personal favourite filmed version of the opera
TheLittleSongbird10 May 2010
Having enjoyed the 1988 production with Gino Quillico and Cecilia Bartoli(in Italian though) and the 1959 version with Hermann Prey, Fritz Wunderlich and Erika Koth, I saw this 1973 version. And I do think it is my personal favourite of them all. The plot is very silly and corny, but it is fun as well, and the comedy is perfectly charming.

The comedy in this version really works with everybody giving exceptional performances. Hermann Prey, who I thought was hugely entertaining in the 1975 video version of Le Nozze di Figaro is terrific as Figaro, handsome and charming yet somewhat mischievous, with a big hearty voice and perfect comic timing. Teresa Berganza is a dazzling Rosina both in voice and in looks, and Luigi Alva is a dashing Almaviva rising to the top notes with effortless ease. Enzo Dara is great as Bartolo and Paolo Montarsolo is even better as Basilio.

The music by Rossini is without a doubt an operatic masterpiece. The overture, Largo Al Factotum and Una Voce Poca Fa(a real show-piece for mezzo sopranos) are definite highlights. The sets were nothing fancy but they are lovely and effective and stick true to the period. The conducting by Claudio Abbado was exemplary, and the orchestra are wonderful playing Rossini's score with real zest and style. Overall, I am 18 and a huge classical music fan and I really loved this version of the opera. Definitely recommended! 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Delicious :)
gwennishh9 July 2000
I had never before actually *seen* this opera, but had played arias from it (bassoon parts) and had heard the entire score arranged for a wind octet. I found this copy at the library and was intrigued. While I have little else to compare it to, I enjoyed this film thoroughly. Five seconds after each character opened his or her mouth, I fell madly in love with them. I think the casting is excellent, especially.. well.. everyone.. but I must say that my favorites were Basillo, Figaro, and Count Almaviva. In my opinion, all singers had perfect timing, exquisite voices, and fine acting as well, if a little corny.. but then, that's fitting to this opera :) Although I'm just 17 and I don't really know opera at all, my mother, who toured for 7 seasons in the Canadian Opera years back, loved this film. So there you go. As the last person said, you don't have to love opera to love this movie. I was surprised I was still wide awake at the end and glued to the screen. The sets are very well done, as are the costumes too. I highly recommend this rendition.
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Town barber helps count court fair lady
sandyj28 June 2000
This production is an excellent presentation of the opera by Rosini. The Barber is a self-confident man about town who happens to have many contacts in the city. The Count wants to court his fair maiden (Rosina) in disguise, so she does not know that he is a count and will fall in love with him for himself and not just his title and wealth. He enlists the aid of the Barber to enter into her household, pretending to be a music teacher to avoid conflict with her guardian, an older gentleman named Don Basilio, who wants her hand for himself.

The plot is silly of course, but it is a farce, and the music, costumes, sets, etc. are wonderful...the singers and the conductor are all world class artists and of course, Rosini is a very well know composer. This film is great fun and its not just for opera lovers!
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