BWW Review: BARBER OF SEVILLE Amuses and Delights
Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! It's hard not to sing his name over and over again as the barber did effortlessly in Pittsburgh Opera's production. Having produced the show twelve times in its history, Pittsburgh Opera delivered a captivating twist on the Rossini classic, The Barber of Seville.
Originally written 200 years ago, The Barber of Seville was adapted and set during the mid-twentieth century in Hollywood. Rosina, the beautiful, young actress played by Corrie Stallings, is under contract by the studio producer Bartolo, played comically by Kevin Glavin. Though Bartolo tries to force Rosina to marry, she is swooned away by Count Almaviva, played by Michele Angelini, with the help of Figaro, played by Jonathan Beyer.
The slow start to the show was only squelched by the brief pieces of humor offered on stage, but as the show progressed and the relationships became entangled and exposed, humor and dramatics increased as the antics of each actor grew more and more comically absurd. Despite being sung in Italian, the opera did not struggle to communicate this hilarity with audiences, due in large part to the talented cast. (It did not hurt that English subtitles were also projected above the stage.)Glavin has graced the Benedum stage before, performing the same role with the company in 2010. Though this production's Hollywood setting was different than the dozens of other productions he's performed in, Glavin embodied the producer character naturally, immediately asserting his dominance on stage as the head of the studio.
Beyer, as the title role, provided the stamina needed for the baritone role and was matched swimmingly by Angelini. Stallings, as a Resident Artist at Pittsburgh Opera, surprised the most with her beautifully controlled voice.
The show was not without pop culture updates as well. Included were a film clip of Bugs Bunny, mentions of Dean Martin, and a jig in yellow raincoats, reminiscent of Gene Kelly's1952 movie, Singin' in the Rain. In relation to the two centuries old show, these "modern" concepts felt neither forced nor unwelcomed to the show.
The packed house was well earned by the cast and production staff of the opera. Pittsburgh Opera made The Barber of Seville, an already welcoming and easy-to-understand opera, accessible to the masses with its comprehensive Hollywood concept and welcoming, talented cast.
Photo Credit: David Bachman Photography