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Opera Carolina's 'Barber of Seville' impresses and entertains

By Michael Brooks
For The Salisbury PostOpera Carolina presented Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” to an appreciative crowd last Saturday evening.
Performances by tenor Victor Ryan Robertson as Count Almaviva and mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala as Rosina were the highlights of the performance. Robertson’s arias with the guitar accompaniment were particularly impressive.
His tenor voice was clear and precise, but in Act I, even though the orchestra was smaller than in most opera performances, they overpowered both Robertson and Ryan Taylor as Figaro. The problem was corrected in Act II. Zabala, on the other hand, soared above the orchestra and I had no problem hearing her from my seat in the mezzanine. Honestly, her performance seemed effortless.
The supporting characters did a fine job as well, especially William Roberts as Basilio.
The show was very entertaining. Some of the comedic high spots occurred when the chorus members “shhh” the orchestra during Count Almaviva’s serenade to Rosina. And Peter Steummer does a great job playing the ignorant Dr. Bartolo. His over-rolling of his “r’s” added to the comedic effect.
Another funny scene occurred in Act II when Basilio encounters “Almaviva” disguised as a music teacher. They are wearing the same costume and Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro, convince him that he has scarlet fever.
The set was simple but effective. One rise of a curtain changed the scene from outside Dr. Bartolo’s house to the inside, where the majority of the opera takes place. The space was used well, but there were several spots in the opera where the action (including several arias) take place on stage extremes near the orchestra pit where audience members in some of the boxes could not see the characters.The small men’s chorus was well-blended and easily-heard. The lighting was effective, especially during the storm scene.
Conductor Tyrone Paterson was on the podium for this performance, but after the 30 minute intermission, opera Carolina’s General Director and Principal Conductor James Meena came on the stage (an uncommon sight) to thank the sponsors and encourage people to continue to attend the opera. He said the recession has hit the opera company hard and their financial situation is “worse than it was after 9/11.”
These are unsure times for all arts groups. Let’s hope that the economic climate doesn’t prevent the public from being able to enjoy remarkable performances such as those heard at the Blumenthal Center last Saturday.nnnOpera Carolina presents Gioacchino Rossini’s comedy, “The Barber of Seville,” at 7:30 p.m. this evening and 8 p.m. Saturday. Performances are in Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.
The work is sung in Italian with English supertitles. Tickets are $16-$125.
For details, call 704-372-1000 or visit www.operacarolina.org.
Michael Brooks is the director of music at John Calvin Presbyterian Church.

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