The Barber of Seville
How does one write an opera in two and one-half weeks that, two hundred years later, proves to be the most popular of all time? Being a twenty-four year old genius named Rossini is a good place to start; borrow an overture and some passages from yourself and a few variations from other notables; and work with a deft libbretist (Cesare Sterbini) who knew when to borrow from the original play (an archetypal commedia dell'arte plot), when to reshape the legacy characterizations, and how to amplify the comedic elements.
Stage director for Opera Colorado's current production, David Gately, an experienced hand at this piece, wisely leaves the setting untouched while cleverly building on Figaro's mastery of human psychology and timing that, along with some splendid performances, makes this a must-see for opera buffa buffs and neophytes alike.
|(L to R) Brian Stucki as Count Almaviva|
and Lucas Meachem as Figaro
Photo: Matthew Staver
Lucas Meachem fully inhabits the bravado of Figaro, the quintessential jack-of-all-trades, his rich baritone lighting up the Ellie with the famous Largo in the first scene, by which the merry factotum describes the demand for his vast abilities: "Figaro here, Figaro there, Figaro wanted everywhere ... Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!"
Overhearing this, the Count Almaviva (Brian Stucki) figures this is the guy who could help him win the heart of the beautiful Rosina (Isabel Leonard), ward of the miserly and older Doctor Bartolo (Thomas Hammons).
|Thomas Hammons as Doctor Bartolo|
and Isabel Leonard as Rosina
Photo: Matthew Staver
Stucki's tenor is expressive and warm and his vibrato impressive, though his amplitude no match for Meachem, or Leonard, whose lovely soprano fills the hall while giving full effect to the musical adornments. Hammons' resonant bass and physical presence makes the doctor a serious threat to the lovers' plans. Fine voice work and acting from the supporting cast as well keep the action lively throughout.
The scenery, courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company, and the costumes, owned by Arizona Opera and constructed by Opera Pacific, heighten the overall excellence of the production. Leonardo Vordoni leads the Colorado Symphony Orchestra through a wholly pleasurable rendition of Rossini's delightful score.
The final performances of Opera Colorado's The Barber of Seville are Friday, February 12th at 7:30 pm and Sunday February 14th at 2:00 pm. 800-982-2787 or OperaColorado.org.