A family-friendly fan favourite: Minnesota Opera's BarberReview
Minnesota Opera’s most recent production of Rossini’s _The Barber of Seville _ opened last weekend at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Husband and wife team Daniela Mack and Alek Shrader starred as Rosina and Count Almaviva. Ms. Mack provided strong low notes, with a sassy and empowered portrayal of Rosina that extended beyond her first aria “Una voce poco fa”. Often, Rosinas don’t carry the passion through the lengthy opera.
There were many laughs of the evening, aided by the well coordinated antics of the male chorus. As Berta, Resident Artist Danielle Beckvermit was memorable as a snuff-taking, hysterical sidekick to Dr. Bartolo. (Her trademark was random screams and carrying around a ratchet to swing in a threatening manner at Rosina and the Count.) Beckvermit’s aria was a lovely treble interlude amid an opera filled with rapid-fire Italian, and smoky arias for basses and mezzos. (Side note: every time I see this opera, I am kind of surprised by the number of bass-baritones on stage.)
The absolute highlight of this Barber is the title character, sung by Rodion Pogossov. Mr. Pogossov made his grand entrance for his signature aria, “Largo al factotum”, from the front of the mezzanine. He really let it rip. His boisterous baritone rang in the hall as he showed off his bravado and soft shoe skills.
Director Francesca Zambello made an addition to the story by having a child actor play a silent role of Figaro’s assistant. It was a comical and fresh addition to the opera. Dr. Bartolo was sung by Patrick Carfizzi and Andrew Gilstrap as Basilio.
Props must be given to Minnesota Opera for scheduling this family-friendly fan favourite, and the seats were certainly filled. Hopefully, the next generation of opera-goers were hooked during this brief run of The Barber of Seville. I look forward to Flight in January 2020!