BWW Review: MN Opera's Extraordinary THE BARBER OF SEVILLE Entertains with Comedic Delights
Perhaps as composer Gioachino Rossini believed, at certain times, life might resemble a comic opera. For opera aficionados in the Twin Cities area, MN Opera at the Ordway Center presents a beloved classic by Rossini--The Barber of Seville. In this story about a rapscallion, yet well to do barber named Figaro created by the 18th century playwright known as Beaumarchais, Rossini added a compelling score to Beaumarchais' play to complement Cesare Sterbini's libretto that brings Figaro to operatic life. The fun loving, well loved barber in Seville features into several popular operas to become some of Rossini's favorites MN Opera transforms the already comic opera into a tour de force production by combining extraordinary singing with a sublime cartoon framework in the tradition of the commedia dell'arte, where masks used by the actors often underscore the action.
Even more magical, Director Francesca Zambella paces the production perfectly while procuring costumes and scenery from the prestigious annual summer Glimmerglass Festival near Cooperstown, New York. Heidi Spesard-Noble complements the scenery with clever choreography while Joseph Mechavich conducts the wonderful live orchestra.For the audience's enchanting entertainment, Zambella also secured highly complimentary lovers for the opera's Rosina and Count Almaviva, with an authentic husband and wife musical team.
The real life pairing allows the romantic arias of love to resonate with genuine intimacy and humor, when the comedy ensues. Daniela Maya and Alek Shrader inhabit these lovers waiting to marry with passionate believability---at least before Rosina's guardian, Dr. Bartolo in the guise of performer Patrick Carfizzi, attempts to contract a marriage to the lovely Rosina first. Mack's and Shrader's abilities to perform and sing display the opera's winning, witty affection for audiences to appreciate.
The host of this love triangle, Figaro, was embodied completely by Rodion Pogossov, who charms the audience and his fellow characters during the four act, two and a half plus hour performance. His voice as vibrant as his stage personality, the outstanding Pogossav, plays to each character, including a love sick maid, Berta, (Danielle Beckvermit) and the partner in Dr. Bartolo's plan, the monk Basilio (Andrew Gilstrap), each who have stunning solo stage moments. A large ensemble of townspeople dressed similar to harlequins or court jesters playfully add their own humor. This includes Figaro's assistant, the piccolo Liam Beck-O'Sullivan, who silently performs on stage with his unique presence.
This innovative interpretation of a traditional opera shines with contemporary sparkle through the traditional genre, and plays on stage similar to an elegant comic book while being based in the history of the Italian Commedia dell'arte, the first beginnings of theater. What a grand opportunity in the Twin Cities to attend with older children or friends who wish to experience opera the first time. Either age group would be enchanted by this production and the sublime command of opera by the entire cast and technical crew. Enjoy an evening of laughter and love, and as Beaumarchais might say: "Where love is concerned--too much is not even enough." Hold someone's hand, bring them to the Ordway Center, and throughly enjoy the extraordinary MN Opera's The Barber of Seville.
MN Opera presents The Barber of Seville at the Ordway Center in downtown St. Paul through November 16. For information on the 2019-2020 season, or tickets to the The Barber of Seville performance, please visit www.mnopera.org.