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The Barber of Seville

Thirty years after Mozart's wonderful comedic opera The Marriage of Figaro—based on the second of a triptych of plays by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais—Gioacchino Rossini wrote the ever-delightful and equally pleasing prequel, The Barber of Seville.

(Left to right) David Portillo as Count Almaviva and Daniel Belcher as Figaro
(L to R) David Portillo as Count Almaviva
and Daniel Belcher as Figaro
Photo: Mark Kiryluk
In Central City Opera's season opening production, we are thrilled to hear and see the amazing artistry and creative forces that Rossini and his librettist, Cesare Sterbini, brought to this opera, which took Paris by storm in 1775. Rossini was only 23 when he wrote it, seven years younger than Mozart was when he wrote his part of the series. Whoa! Come witness the genius in this! For anyone who has doubts about opera, check out this gem, from a magical period in Italian comic opera, that rivals any musical comedy during the golden age of Broadway (late '40's to early '60's).

Figaro (Daniel Belcher) is the consummate jack-of-all-trades and master of many—and he knows it. Witty, boastful, and conniving, Figaro can figure out how to help you accomplish the impossible, for a price. In this fun story, he helps Count Almaviva (David Portillo) woo the charming Rosina (Jennifer Rivera). Much as in Commedia dell'Arte, from which the comedic structure of this piece traces its roots, the antagonist, Dr. Bartolo (Patrick Carfizzi) is combination of stock characters, a wealthy old miser and a physician who stands between the young lovers.

Jennifer Rivera as Rosina and Patrick Carfizzi as Dr. Bartolo
Jennifer Rivera as Rosina
and Patrick Carfizzi as Dr. Bartolo
Photo: Mark Kiryluk
At every turn, the principals' voices wow us. Belcher's baritone matches his bravado. Portillo is a passionate tenor and his Italian mellifluous. Carfizzi's agile bass argues strongly for the lecherous and controlling quack. Rivera's seductive soprano coloratura drives both her suitors (Count Almaviva and Dr. Bartolo) up the wall. The work throughout the ensemble is marvelous as well, including Don Basilio (Gregory Soloviov, who bears a resemblance to Carmen Basilio, the great Italian-American boxer of the 1950's), Doctor Bartolo's counterpunch to Figaro. Soloviov rolls well with punches, particularly the Count's offer he could not refuse.

Maestro John Baril sets a lively, farcical pace that the robust, 50-piece Festival Orchestra handles with aplomb. Costumes (Sara Jean Tosetti) and set (Arnulfo Maldonado) are colorful and delightfully detailed. Stage director Marc Astfan mines all the rich comedic veins.

Central City Opera's The Barber of Seville runs through July 27th in repertory with Our Town, followed by Showboat, at the Buell Theatre, August 6th through 11th. For tickets: 303-292-6700 or centralcityopera.org.

Bob Bows

 

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