Rossini’s The Barber of Seville

Dates and Venue 21, 26 & 28 February 2009 at 8pm & 23 & 25 February 2pm | James Cowan Theatre, Shadbolt Centre

Director and Set Design Matthew Bissett Music Director David Boothroyd Lighting Design Michael Schaldemose Costume Design Olga Grikis Production Manager Sarah King Stage Manager Cassia Parent

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Rossini’s The Barber of Seville has delighted audiences worldwide since its premiere nearly two hundred years ago in Rome. This romantic comic opera uses age-old devices of disguise and guile to overcome obstacles and bring lovers together in the tradition of operatic romance. This English-language offering of the work was an able production by talented young performers in Burnaby Lyric Opera, British Columbia’s only intermediate opera company.

The talent in the company is, indeed promising. Baritone Joel Klein shows his easy stage presence and singing talent as the barber, Figaro, the instigator of the deceptions that drive the plot. His performances, both alone and with other characters, showcase his voice and acting ability.

Dionne Sellinger shines as Rosina, the beautiful young woman who has to escape the clutches of a possessive and lustful guardian to be with her true love. This mezzo-soprano’s voice is strong and true, and her comedic talent enthralls the audience at every turn.

Tenor Isaiah Bell, who plays Rosina’a love interest, the disguised Count Almaviva, is another talent who is surely destined for ongoing success. His confident performance and fine voice are truly exciting.

Baritone Ed Moran plays Rosina’s guardian, Dr. Bartolo, who is selfishly determined to marry her. His talent seems to be a natural fit for the character. Moran’s voice, manner and stature make his performance one of the most believable of the evening.

Javier Gutierrez, a bass-baritone, plays Don Basilio, Rosina’s singing teacher and ally of Dr. Bartolo in trying to arrange his marriage to the reluctant bride. Gutierrez has a good strong voice which is most pleasing in solo moments.

Mezzo-soprano Teresa Connors is a major talent playing a minor role in this opera. Playing Berta, Dr. Bartolo’s maid, she capitalizes on her obvious abilities as a singer and operatic actor, and delights the audience whenever she is on stage.

Members of the Burnaby Lyric Opera Chorus rounded out the show with full, rich sound and entertaining performances by supporting players. Collectively, they added the right finishing touches in all the right places.Special kudos must go to David Boothroyd, the sole indefatigable accompanist on piano and harpsichord for the entire operatic performance. His performance moved smoothly from subliminal background to overpowering crescendo as the plot demanded.

All in all, this production of The Barber of Seville highlights the depth of operatic talent in our province. The rich singing background of all cast members offers audiences a fun-filled performance, punctuated with more than a few goose-bump moments of star quality.

© 2009 Christian Steckler