Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

iClassical, June 2019

Verdi considered Il barbiere di Siviglia to be the greatest operatic comedy—a perfect marriage of wit, energy and exhilarating musical invention. Rossini’s score fizzes with virtuosic brilliance, combining bravura solo arias, set to some of the composer’s best-loved melodies, with breath-taking, intricate ensembles, weaving together the story’s many strands into glittering musical and dramatic harmony.

Fortunately there is a 3 CD set issued by Naxos, at bargain price, and conducted by Will Humburg that in many respects is the equal or in some cases superior to all of the other versions available. We would strongly urge you to try this version. © 2019 iClassical Read complete review

Henry Fogel
Fanfare, May 2017

…the cast is fully engaged in this remarkable performance. The true hero, in addition to the producer, is conductor Will Humburg. He is incisive, witty, unfailingly musical, combing real lilt with rhythmic snap. In the end it’s the conductor who has to weld all of the shtick into an artistic whole, and Humburg does that. If I wanted to persuade a skeptic that this kind of bel canto comedy is much more than a succession of pretty tunes, this is the recording I’d play. And if I were to recommend only a single Barber of Seville to collectors who didn’t want duplication, it would be this one, too. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Though the cast is not as starry as with most full-price rivals, the Naxos set makes a first-rate bargain. The singing is hardly less stylish, with Sonia Ganassi a rich-toned Rosina, controlling vibrato well, and with Ramon Vargas an agile and attractively youthful-sounding Almaviva. Roberto Serville as Figaro conveys te fun of the role brilliantly. The buffo characters are strongly cast too, with Basilio’s La calunnia (Franco de Grandis) delightfully enlivened by comments from Bartolo (Angelo Romero), both very much involved in their roles. Will Humburg’s often brisk speeds, with crisp recitative matched by dazzling ensembles, never prevent the music (and the singers) from breathing.

Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, July 2005

  "This 1992 Naxos recording is graced by a number of singers in their early careers and who have gone on to be welcome at the best addresses. Ramon Vargas (b. 1960) is a lyric tenor Almaviva. His tone is stronger, has more metal in it, with less heady honey, than a tenore di grazia such as Florez or Gimenez who commonly essay this and other florid Rossini tenor roles. His youthful voice is even and true over its extended range and his phrasing is delicate and graceful when called for (CD 1 tr. 3). He characterises well and doesn’t overdo the comic business as he seeks to convince Dr. Bartolo of his status as Rosina’s replacement singing teacher for the supposedly ill Don Basilio (CD 3 tr.2). As Bartolo, Angelo Romero, who has sung the role at La Scala, has a well-covered tone. He acts well with his voice, and if not erasing memories of Enzo Dara’s inestimable portrayal, he is at least the match of contemporaries on other versions (CD 2 tr.11). Similar strengths are to be heard in the portrayal by Franco de Grandis (b. 1960) of the sleazy and easily bribed Basilio. He has sung under Karajan at Salzburg, Vienna under Abbado as well as appearing at La Scala and the Met. His voice is steady and true and his La calunnia (CD 2 tr. 6) is well sung. In the ultimate analysis he doesn’t quite portray Basilio’s two-faced standard, but nor does he let the side down.

The Rosina of Sonia Ganassi and Figaro of Roberto Serville are both full-toned portrayals. She has a wide vocal register that is particularly strong in the lower part of her voice. Whilst her Una voce poco fa (CD 2 tr. 1) is sung rather carefully, and lacks a little viperish sparkle, her overall portrayal and characterisation has many strengths and is underpinned by her, even legato, creamy tone and sense of style. As the somewhat egocentric barber of the story, Roberto Serville doesn’t over-use the strengths of his big voice although he cannot fine it down in his self-advertising cavatina Largo al factotum (CD 1 tr. 6) as Gobbi does (EMI GROC with Callas) and which is integral to Prey’s vocal quality (Abbado on DG). The result is a little heavy. In the reality of the social relationship between himself and Count Almaviva I always think that Figaro should cajole and manoeuvre rather than boss his aristocratic paymaster. Perhaps Will Homburg could have lightened the textures for his baritone with more lively sprung rhythms. By that I do not wish to imply a too strait-laced approach by the conductor in what is after all an opera buffa. However, his is a rather square interpretation compared with Marriner (Philips), Chailly (Decca with Bartoli as Rosina) and above all the scintillating, but heavily cut, Galliera (EMI GROC with Callas and Gobbi). He paces the extended recitatives included here, and the abundant ensembles, with more flair. Although no performing edition is credited this very full version extends the opera onto three discs, as does the Chailly version on Decca. The virtue in this well recorded and balanced Naxos issue, with appropriate added sound-effects such as the knocking on doors, is that it is only one third the price of the starrier cast Decca.

The Naxos booklet has a brief essay on the background to the work’s composition, an excellent track-related synopsis and also artist profiles, all given in English, German and French. A full libretto in Italian, without any translation is also provided. The large number of recordings in the catalogue reflects the popularity of Il barbiere di Siviglia. In terms of value for money, as well as completeness, this well sung Naxos issue is in a league of its own. It is a perfect complement to other less complete, but starrier cast recorded performances and is worthy of a place in any opera lover’s collection."

Bob Rose
Fanfare, November 1995

Angelo Romero imitates the voice quality of the castrato by singing the first verse in a pure falsetto. Ramon Vargas’s Almaviva is superb, and there is not a weak member of the cast, brilliantly conducted by Will Humburg. © 1995 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare


"there are ways in which this brand-new super-budget recording of Il barbiere di Siviglia puts to shame just about every other version of the opera there has yet been"

"As operatic pole-vaulters, Naxos are now clearly in the Olympic class"

CD Review

"Barbiere should put a smile on your face from the first bar to the last, and this one succeeds"

BBC Music Magazine

"as successful as any recent full-priced issue"

In Tune International (UK)

"Naxos has scored another coup by releasing a superb recording of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia which comes close to topping all competition"

Robert Croan
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Good value on this mid-priced label: a solid, uncut performance (from Budapest) with lots of vitality. Naxos also offers a useful "Introduction to 'The Barber of Seville' " in its Opera Explained series."

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group