Thursday, November 19, 2009

Opera Delaware's BARBER OF SEVILLE

Celebrating their 65th anniversary, OperaDelaware mounts a no holds barred laugh riot of Rossini's “commedia in two acts."

The opera premiered in 1816 in both Rome and Argentina. One of the distinguishing points of Rossini from other composers of opera was his inspired, song-like melodies, which enabled the general populace to remember the tunes. The two best examples of this is “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro” from “The Barber” and The Lone Ranger and Tonto's classic opener with the overture from “William Tell."

Rossini was a composer with a sense of humor. Artistic director of OperaDelaware and director for this production, Lee Kimball, milked all the elements of humor of the plot and cast a supremely talented and versatile group of singer/actors to bring the opera down to human terms. Kimball even employed harpsichordist David Christopher to enhance the musical environment.

The leads of the voices were individually thrilling and the ensemble pieces were a beauty to behold.

Count Almaviva (John Zuckerman), making his debut here, had performed the role in Virginia, Ohio and with other opera companies. His is a first in my experience of accompanying himself on the guitar while singing. This makes the mise en scene even more emphatic. He knew when to project and when to pull back. His breath control was excellent and his tenor had a brilliant, edgy quality to it.

Rosina (Misoon Ghim) returned to OperaDelaware after playing in the 2007 “Madama Butterfly”. She brought dramatic sensitivity to the role and dancing eyes and subtle and playful expressions to the remonstrances of Dr. Bartolo, (the man she did not want) and Almaviva (the man she did).

Dr. Bartolo (Donald Hartman) was described in “Opera News” as 'one of the best character singers on any opera stage anywhere.” He lived up to the press in this role. His gigantic bass baritone fills The Grand and I think my contacts were vibrating with his timbre. Hartman's mugging in the comic character he portrays is out of Harpo Marx.

Figaro (Brian Carter) also was in his debut here in Delaware. Kimball directed his introduction by having the character walk down the center aisle, playing to the receptive audience.
Chris Alberts, last week reviewed for his lighting design artistry at New Candlelight, created more mastery with the nuances that created the tone of a scene.

Set designer Peter Tupitza has been a scenic artist for both Martin Scorcese and M. Night Shyamalan. This courtyard/palace set done in light blue, had the feel of a cartoon. It was sturdy and workable and worked as the sixth lead actor in a production whose mission was to produce wonder and awe for the ears and belly laughs for the soul.

The production is completed but OperaDelaware's next venture is March 5,6 and 7 @ Opera Studios on the Riverfront. or 1-800-37-GRAND. OperaDe also has a Youth Opera Program. See the site for details.

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