Bartlett Sher's Acclaimed Il Barbiere di Siviglia Returns To The Met

Bartlett Sher's Acclaimed Il Barbiere di Siviglia Returns To The Met

Bartlett Sher's hit production of Rossini's comic masterpiece, Il Barbiere di Siviglia ("The Barber of Seville"), returns to the Met stage on October 3. Joyce DiDonato stars in the role of Rosina, with Barry Banks in his first Met performances as Count Almaviva and Rodion Pogossov in his company role debut as Figaro. John Del Carlo sings the role of Dr. Bartolo, and Orlin Anastassov makes his Met role debut as Don Basilio. Maurizio Benini conducts.

In later performances Diana Damrau reprises her much-admired portrayal of Rosina with Rossini specialist Lawrence Brownlee as the Count. Franco Vassallo sings the title role, while Roberto Scandiuzzi and Samuel Ramey alternate as Don Basilio, and Maurizio Muraro takes over as Dr. Bartolo.

Sher's inventive production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia opened in 2006 to sterling reviews and sold-out houses and was seen worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. The renowned theater director brought his Tony Award-winning production team from The Light in the Piazza and Awake and Sing!-set designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind-to the Met to create the innovative staging. For the first time at the Met, the production introduced a passerelle, or walkway, that extends from the stage around the rim of the orchestra pit and into the audience. The Wall Street Journal said the show was "lighthearted and blissfully funny," and called the passerelle "a stroke of was thrilling to have those voices close, without the orchestra pit in between."

Fall performances run through November 7, and the opera returns to the repertory for three more performances from February 26 to March 4.

"The perky, rich-toned and vocally brilliant young American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato had a triumph as Rosina," the New York Times said when DiDonato sang the role in 2007. That year, opera-goers around the world saw her on screen in the Live in HD transmission of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Last season, DiDonato sang a concert of Mozart and Rossini works with the MET Orchestra and Music Director James Levine in Carnegie Hall. She was the host for the Live in HD transmission of Orfeo ed Euridice. She made her Met debut as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro in 2005 and also appeared as Stéphano in a new production of Roméo et Juliette. This season she also sings Rosina at La Scala and, in her company debut, at the Los Angeles Opera. She also makes her role debut as Cherubino at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and performs Elena in a new production of La Donna del Lago at the Geneva Opera and the Paris Opera. DiDonato won the prestigious Beverly Sills Artist Award in 2007.

Diana Damrau returns as Rosina, which she sang at the premiere of this production in 2006. The Associated Press wrote: "In Diana Damrau, the Met has a Rosina with an edge. The German soprano has a sweet sound and a powerhouse upper register." This season, Damrau adds Marie in La Fille du Régiment to her Met repertoire and sings Strauss works in a Carnegie Hall concert with the MET Orchestra and Music Director James Levine in January. Last season she added two landmark coloratura roles to her repertory with the company, the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor and Gilda in Rigoletto. Since her sensational Met debut in 2005 as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, she has performed Aithra in the new production of Strauss's rarely-performed Die Ägyptische Helena and played three Mozart roles, Pamina and Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte (the first soprano in Met history to sing both roles in one season) as well as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

British tenor Barry Banks, who makes his company role debut as Count Almaviva, will also play Carlo this season in the Met premiere of Rossini's Armida. He made his debut as Flute in the 1996 Met premiere of A Midsummer Night's Dream and also appeared as the Fisherman in Le Rossignol and the Shepherd in Oedipus Rex. However, he is best known for bel canto roles such as the two he sang last season at the Met: Elvino in La Sonnambula and Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore. He has also appeared here as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Tonio in La Fille du Régiment, Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri, and Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola.

Lawrence Brownlee returns as Count Almaviva, the role of his 2007 Met debut. "He has mastered the bel canto technique of fast runs, trills, and ornamentation that Rossini requires, and stopped the show with his acrobatics in the aria ‘Cessa di più resistere,'" the Associated Press said on that occasion. Later this season he returns as Rinaldo in the Met premiere of Armida opposite Renée Fleming. Last season the young American tenor, who was a 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner, sang Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola, which was transmitted around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series. A bel canto specialist, he recently sang Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore (Caramoor Festival), Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri (Teatro Verdi, Trieste; Opera Company of Philadelphia), Giannetto in La Gazza Ladra (Teatro Comunale, Bologna), Narciso in Il Turco in Italia (Deutsche Oper, Berlin), Tonio in La Fille du Régiment (Hamburg State Opera), and Arturo in I Puritani (Seattle Opera).

Rodion Pogossov made his 2001 Met debut as Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and now takes on Figaro for the first time with the company. The Russian baritone sings another comic role this season, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, which he sang at the premiere of Julie Taymor's new production in 2004 as well as in last season's revival. A graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he has also appeared as Marullo in Rigoletto and has sung with the MET Chamber Ensemble and Music Director James Levine in Weill Recital Hall.

Franco Vassallo returns to the role of his 2005 Met debut, Figaro. Last season Vassallo was Belcore in another bel canto comedy, L'Elisir d'Amore. In 2007, audiences around the world saw the Italian baritone as Riccardo in the Live in HD transmission of
I Puritani, now available in DVD. A native of Milan, he has recently sung Don Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia (Bavarian State Opera) as well as Ezio in Attila and Germont in La Traviata (both at the Hamburg State Opera), and this season performs the title roles in two Verdi operas, Rigoletto (Dresden State Opera) and Macbeth (Bavarian State Opera).

American bass-baritone John Del Carlo reprises Dr. Bartolo, which he performed when the production premiered in 2006 and when it was transmitted live in HD in 2007. This season he expands his Met repertoire with the Sacristan in Tosca and returns to the role of the other Dr. Bartolo in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. Last season he was the Prince de Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur and the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte. Since his Met debut in 1993 as Kothner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, he has appeared frequently with the company and was heard in four Met premieres: Balducci in Benvenuto Cellini (2003), Alfieri in A View from the Bridge (2002), Baron Zeta in The Merry Widow (2000), and Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1996). He has also sung Swallow in Peter Grimes, seen live in HD, and the title role in Don Pasquale.

Italian bass Maurizio Muraro returns as Dr. Bartolo, He made his Met debut in 2005 with the same character, but in a different opera, Le Nozze di Figaro. This season he also makes his company role debut as Sulpice in La Fille du Régiment. In European opera houses, Muraro has sung numerous bel canto roles (Oroveso in Norma, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, the title role in Don Pasquale, Dulcamara in L'Elisir d'Amore), Verdi characters (Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra and Philip II in Don Carlo), and 20th-century parts such as Truelove in The Rake's Progress and Milord Runebif in Wolf-Ferrari's La Vedova Scaltra.

Orlin Anastassov is adding two new roles to his Met repertory this season: Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Ramfis in Aida. The Bulgarian bass, who won first prize in Plácido Domingo's Operalia competition in 1999, made his 2008 Met debut as Alvise in La Gioconda. He sings many Verdi roles, including Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino (San Francisco Opera), the title role in Attila (Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Ferrando in Il Trovatore (Paris Opera), and Philip II in Don Carlo (Royal Opera, Covent Garden), as well as bel canto roles, such as Oroveso in Norma (Rome Opera).