07 May Opera San Antonio Barbiere di Siviglia review
Joyous love wins in “The Barber of Seville”
Updated 11:08 pm, Saturday, May 6, 2017
It may have been Election Day on Saturday, but the comic pursuit of love dominated in Opera San Antonio’s “The Barber of Seville” at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
The opera company staged a union of virtuosic singing with physical comedy for the ever-popular masterpiece by Biachino Rossini before an audience of more than 1,100 people Saturday night.
Stage director E. Loren Meeker prepared a highly entertaining interpretation of “Barber” with a cast that left nothing more to be desired.
All four top singers quickly established themselves with their opening arias that set into motion the story of “somersaulting hearts.”
Tenor Andrew Owens, as Count Almavia, started with his aria to woo Rosina, his voice ardent and longing. The “barber” himself, baritone Luis Ledesma, followed with the opera’s best known aria, his rich voice ringing out with “Figaro, Figaro.”
Rosina, performed by soprano Sarah Coburn, was surprising, her bright, strong vocals filling the hall from such a petite figure. Baritone Jake Gardner was overly theatrical, appropriately, as Dr. Bartolo as the plot advanced for the count to win Rosina’s heart despite Bartolo’s wish to wed Rosina.
Every scene was delivered with conviction, but nothing beat the prolonged music-lesson segment that opened Act Two. The witty acting and the ensemble singing soared with drama and delight.
The roll-on, roll-off set from the Glimmerglass Festival was appealing and functional. The costumes from Indiana University clearly placed the opera in the 1800s.
The 15-member chorus was wonderful in its multiple roles that varied from serenading band to police force.
The orchestra conductor was Vlad Iftinca, a staff conductor at New York’s Metropolitan Opera from Romania. The 49 musicians from the San Antonio Symphony, plus guitar and harpsichord players, sounded warm and glowing from the H-E-B Performance Hall pit, especially during the famous opening overture and for the joyous ending with the singing cast.