The Barber of Seville

With its completely reconceived production of Gioacchino Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Opera Colorado has given notice that it does not intend to cede future audiences to the splashy world of Broadway musicals or the action-packed effects of silver screen. Artistic Director James Robinson's prescient choice of contemporary dance choreographer Doug Varone to stage direct this classic comedy results in a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.

Photo of Count Almaviva (John Tessier), Fiorello (Bradley Thompson) and the Opera Colorado Chorus.
Count Almaviva (John Tessier),
Fiorello (Bradley Thompson) and
the Opera Colorado Chorus.
Photo: P. Switzer
Coming on the heels of Robinson and Varone's success with last year's Orpheus and Eurydice, this production raises the bar for production values. Borrowing from Fellini, Varone sends in a troupe of clowns with the Overture and keeps them on stage the entire evening, acting as mimes to the music and ringmasters to the action—echoing the misrule at the heart of the story and forcing the audience to suspend their belief in the normal order of things.

When the audience isn't in stitches over the physical comedy perpetrated by these expressive yet zany dancers and their operatic foils, it is delighted by the fine voice work from all parties.

Photo of Ian Greenlaw as Figaro.
Ian Greenlaw as Figaro
Photo: P. Switzer
Borrowing a page from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the title character, Figaro, jack-of-all-trades, Renaissance equivalent of a witchdoctor, arrives Elvis-like into this funny-house of Seville. As the clowns strategically rearrange a multitude of doors around the stage to set up quick entrances and exits, and pile and topple mattresses to create bedrooms and break falls, Ian Greenlaw's Figaro struts and postures like the King himself, while smoothly navigating the famous baritone repertoire.

Count Almaviva puts Figaro's inestimable talents to work in the pursuit of his passion, the fair Rosina. Tenor John Tessier handles Almaviva's comedic opportunities with aplomb, and does a more than adequate job with his arias.

Photo of Patricia Risley as Rosina
Patricia Risley as Rosina
Photo: P. Switzer
It is easy to see why Almaviva is so worked up—Patricia Risley as Rosina dazzles us with her beauty and stirring mezzo-soprano, and takes a back seat to no one in the acting department.

Photo of Christopher Feigum as Don Basilio and Dale Travis as Doctor Bartolo
Christopher Feigum as Don Basilio
and Dale Travis as Doctor Bartolo
Photo: P. Switzer
The bass-baritone bad-guy roles of Dr. Bartolo, the lecherous suitor, and Don Basilio, a rumormonger and slanderer in the vein of Bush's Karl Rove, are amusingly played and well-sung by Dale Travis and Christopher Feigum.

The score is grand, the bel canto sweet, and the concept spectacular. Opera Colorado's The Barber of Seville concludes with performances on Friday, April 30th at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, May 2nd, at 2:00 pm. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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