The Barber of Seville Highlights on the Lyric Stage - in German!
Herman Prey, Peter Schreir and Ruth Margret Putz head the cast in this week's The Lyric Stage on Sunday (6/11 at 8 pm).
This week we feature highlights from The Barber of Seville, but highlights with a twist.
The familiar opera is from the play by Beaumarchais, the first of the trilogy that ends with The Marriage of Figaro on which Mozart based his opera of the same name. In the Barber, Count Almaviva is in love with Rosina and sings to her every night from beneath her balcony. But her guardian Bartolo wants to marry her as well, so Figaro, the town barber and general fixer, helps Almaviva against the scheming of Bartolo and his friend Basilio, and after much confusing fun all is well In perhaps what is the perfect comic opera.
But the twist on the version of the Barber we have this week is a bit different, because the language is German, not Italian. It's unusual today to present opera translated from the original language. But that wasn't always the case, and recordings by major performers of Faust in Italian, for example, or Puccini in German were common into the 1960's. It was a long tradition. The first performance at the Metropolitan ever in 1883 was Faust in Italian from a German translation of the original French. New York City Opera in 1969 presented Prince Igor in English from a German translation of the original Russian. But thanks to changing taste and the advent of surtitles, it is not common today, except at the English National Opera, whose mission is to present opera in English.
But great music and comedy done well in any language can be successful, and this week on the Lyric Stage we have an excellent German language version of highlights the Barber of Seville. It was recorded in 1965 and features Herman Prey as the Figaro the Barber, Peter Schreir as Almaviva, and Ruth Margret Putz as Rosina. Otmar Suitner conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin.