My second operatic experience in Germany was on New Year's Eve Day at the 3pm matinee performance of Rossini's Der Barbier von Sevilla at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Located to the west of the center of the city on Bismarkstrasse, this theater was quite a contrast to the design of the Komische Oper. It was built as it currently stands in 1961 after being mostly destroyed in the second world war. The starkness and minimalistic design which pervades the architecture of the building was created so that it would "emphasize the importance of the performance in the Deutsche Oper Berlin – and not the social occasion", says the website of the Opera house itself.
Anyway, back to the details. The performance was sung in Italian with German super titles, and the overall quality of the performance was easily on par with the Metropolitan Opera's fare in recent years. Both of these important theaters' productions are characterized by modern approaches to set design (not in an avant-garde fashion, but just evocative of the time period in which the action occurs, but with less lavish eye for detail) and their costumes are equally well created (appropriate, tasteful and interesting but never gaudy). The singers were as follows: Yosep Kang as Graf Almaviva, Tiziano Bracci as Bartolo, Jana Kurucova as Rosina, Markus Brueck as Figaro, Ante Jerkunica as Basilio, James J. Kee (as fellow American who is there on a Fellowship from the Opera Foundation in NYC) as Fiorello, Hulkar Sabirova as Berta, Krzystof Szumansi as Ein Offizier, and Antje Brameyer as Ein Notar. The conductor was Enrique Mazzola and the director was Katharina Thalbach.
The charming colloquialness that the production intended to portray by setting the action of the plot on a street by the beach in Italy was just wonderful and really was well received by the audience. It provided a different idea of the character of Rosina as well, since her back story was portrayed as being the captor of the Doctor, but in this case he is a traveling performer and Rosina's singing is his main attraction. It all works splendidly within the framework of Rossini's masterpiece, and it brings a real sense of spontaneity and verve to the characters of Rosina and Dr. Bartolo that I have not experienced before in the traditional plot setting.
Overall it was a production that I very much enjoyed with fine singing, wonderful plot interpretation, beautiful costumes, scenery and lighting, and an irreplaceable accuracy of execution which brought it all together wonderfully.