(Karen Almond/Metropolitan Opera)
This season, we have started to regularly review operas performed by the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. As a sports fans you may not be a regular opera goer–you even may be tempted to see the title of this article and move on without reading this review. But, this would be a big mistake.
An comedic play with great music, sung in English, with great costumes, and a cheap price–how could one go wrong? Especially when a former hockey player is singing the title role of the Barber of Seville.
Like a good hockey game, this version of the Barber of Seville, which opened this past Wednesday night at the Met, was so much fun, it was over in a flash. The singers had much in common with skaters on the ice, athletically moving back and forth on a stage that was extended past the orchestra pit almost on top of the audience.
The singing was very spirited and there was not a bad performance among the mix of experienced and younger singers. The opera itself is the story of a young woman, Rosina, who is the ward of an older Doctor Bartolo. Rosina falls in love with the singing voice of a young handsome man, whom she does not know is Count Almaviva. The Count is in love with her too, but because he wants to be loved for himself rather than his station in life, he pretends to Rosina that the voice that she is enchanted by is that of a poor student by the name of Lindoro. The Barber of Seville, whose given name is Figaro, makes things happen throughout the opera, conniving and assisting Almaviva in winning Rosina, while hoping to get cash in exchange. The opera is provides playful trickery to allow the Count to win Rosina and has lots of action and laughs all along the way.
The former hockey player is Elliot Madore, a Toronto area baritone, who sings the role of Figaro, the Barber. Madore, who not long ago sang the Canadian National Anthem at the ACC before a Maple Leafs’ game, has a voice that is full and well rounded. His range was great and he used the stage extremely well. Isabel Leonard stars in the opera as Rosina. An experienced 33-year-old mezzo soprano, Leonard has already won one Grammy and recently was nominated again for another. Her voice is beautiful, with excellent color, and this role gave her a chance to show her range.
Although the orchestra was weak at times on opening night, the essence of the music came through and one hopes and expects that their performance will improve over the coming weeks.
All in all, if you never have tried opera and have the slightest wonder of what its like, or if you want the kids to get a bit of “culture,” and/or you just want to see what a hockey player with other talents can do on stage, you should come see this performance. Its cheaper than a play on Broadway (tickets start at $25), the opera house is beautiful, the opera is fun, its over in two hours and it is in English. How can you go wrong?
The Barber of Seville runs through January 2nd, 2016.