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Subject: Virginia Opera closes BARBIERE de SIVIGLIA with a bang (12-4-16)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 6 Dec 2016 08:40:47 -0500
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> 
>     I was lucky enough to catch the final performance of the Virginia Opera's wonderful new mod-60's Barber of Seville with a superb cast before it closed a several week run throughout Virginia.
> 
> 
>     Conductor: John Baril
>     Director: Michael Shell
>     Set Designer: Shoko Kambara
>     Costume Designer: Amanda Seymour
>     Lighting Designer: Driscoll Otto
>     Wig and Makeup Designer: Jim McGough
> 
>     Cast 
>     Count Almaviva: Andrew Owens 
>     Doctor Bartolo: Matthew Burns
>     Basilio: Christopher Job
>     Figaro: Will Liverman 
>     Rosina: Megan Marino
>     Berta: Christine Suits
>     Fiorello: André Chiang
> 
>     The curtain rose to reveal a scrim-like curtain mid-stage which had large orange droplets of water (storm scene?) with rooster heads across the bottom and inverted rooster heads across the top; hard to figure this one out. A kiosk stood at the right advertising some kind of performance of the star "Alamaviva." Across the top of the stage was a large banner sign "EL BARBERO DE SEVILLA" with a neon arrow at the left pointing down and offstage as well as green neon scissors and a large eye.
>     The surtitle sign said Seville during a fiesta -TIME:B.C. (before cellphones) which got a giggle (not from me) from some folks. Figaro appeared in army boots, khakis and a long 19th century-like blue coat but here almost velvet-like with large eyes on it (mimicking the sign above); he seemed to be coordinating everything as if he knew the plot.
>     Fiorello was in modern dress, sweater vest, tie and jacket, while his band seemed to be dressed for the feria (festival) with late 19th century period hats and outfits. Almaviva enters with a tie, vest and slacks and is recognized by all as a star, so he dons a cap and nerdy glasses as a disguise to be Lindoro. One of the locals yells, "Ay dios mio!" when he recognizes him. The sign above this scene was "LA CALLE" and there were many supers dressed as flamenco dancers, toreadors, festival participants and even a mime on stilts.  Mr. Owens' opening, "Ecco ridente in cielo" was gorgeous and I knew he was truly capable of the great things a Rossini tenor can do. There was a bench to the left with a homeless guy with a Santa cap drinking a beer from a bag which made little sense.
>     Mr. Liverman's Figaro gave the role all the enthusiasm and excitement it needed from his opening "Largo al factotum" which seemed to be delivered to the homeless guy for the most part!
>     As we arrive at Bartolo's, we have a balding younger Bartolo in Mr. Burns with a semi-combover and a slightly greasy feel that garnered the true essence of this part perhaps better than I have ever seen before.  Fro Lindoro's serenade, it is Bertha, a chain-smoking, high-piled hair maid (think Flo the waitress) that seems to do nothing, that stops Rosina from greeting the Count below.
>     The next scene is "EL MEDINO" with Ambroglio asleep in an eye doctor's examination chair and Bertha at a desk, which actually lost a wheel and became a problem for the cast! A large eye chart was at the rear.
>     I have heard Ms. Marino before, but never in such a plum role and who knew she is the Rossini mezzo of our future. Her lows were astounding and her coloratura was indeed miraculous, her final "giocar" blowing me away so totally. It was indeed a delicious portrayal. There were stuffed roosters around as well as china ones, so I guess the theme was being continued.
>     Our Basilio was a slightly swarmy gau who wore a hideous velvet patterend suit, sported a huge mustache and a big medallion on his chest. Mr. Job's "La calunnia" was excellent, but as a bass-baritone, rather then a bass, he lacked those awesome held low notes.
>     We return to Rosina's "Dunque io son" and more luscious mezzo singing which now has Bartolo as the eye doctor seeing patients and Rosina as his assistant. It got a bit silly and slapstickish here with the eye drops and more.
>     We move on to "LA CASA" with a giant rooster painting on the wall at the center and French doors and balconies on each side at the rear; a chaise and chairs with a mod bar are at the front. I got tired of Ambrogio's silly mini-footstep shuffles, but people seemed to laugh. Almaviva enters in a traditional 19th century red, white and blue soldier's uniform with Napoleanic like hat and the surtitles went bananas with them translating his "Dr. Barbaro" as "Dr. Bubbaleh" which was really stupid. I loved when Bartolo took his eye chart pointer like a sword and charged Almaviva, only to have it collapse.
>     During the final "freeze" finale, Figaro actually robs one policeman's wallet and sticks another's in his nose. The supers all came on and we had nuns disco dancing among everything else to a point of needless cacophony.
> 
>     Act II had Berta making a shake with a noisy blender at the bar and subsequently interrupting Basilio's singing--cute.
>     Indeed, however, the concept really took flight and worked brilliantly with Almaviva's Don Alonso being a long haired, sunglasses-wearing, hippy-type with striped bellbottoms and a frilly vest which was not only novel but worked to a tee.
>     In the ensuing music lesson scene, Mr. Burns had us in hysterics when he started his aria in true falsetto imitating the famous castrato he had referred to. It all really worked and WAS funny.
>     After Basilio enters and is bribed to leave Berta is alone with Rosina and she opens the large rooster wall hanging at the rear to reveal a giant armoire (EL ARMERIO) laden with boas, flouncy 60's Spanish polkadot dresses and more. Her aria was not cut, and Ms. Yokers did a good job, but I would have gladly sacrificed it to have the final tenor aria!
>     The rooster theme re-emerged with a subsequent rooster dance and then really came to the fore when Basilio fell asleep during the storm scene only to dream of a huge rooster ballet for some dozen supers or chorus in rooster outfits.
>     The finale (too short without that fab aria) had Figaro playing bored as the loving couple made doe eyes.
>     This was well sung, no doubt, and most enjoyable....a truly great and fun production, if a bit over the top and what won me was the superb singing from a truly excellent cast....and for once today's Washington Post's Ms. Midgette actually seemed to agree with me!
> 
> 
>     Alan J. Savada,  Independent Certified Travel Consultant 
> 
>     FROSCH TRAVEL (Washington, DC)
>     Casa Bocca di Leone
>     4519 Foxhall Crescents, NW 
>     Washington, DC 20007
>     Tel. 202.337.8785 
>     Fax 202.337.8637
>     [log in to unmask]
>     www.frosch.com
> 
>     Proud Member of the Signature Travel Network
> 
>     Main office address: 1025 Thomas Jefferson St, NW -Suite 125
>     Washington, DC 20007
>     Tel. 202-337-7718
> 
> 
>     "The lure of travel set my heart afire"--Erich Korngold from DIE TOTE STADT
>     "If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you I came to live out loud"--Emile Zola
>     ****************LIFE IS A CABERNET!>>
> 
> 
> 

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