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The comic hit from 1816 soldiers on

The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
01/19/2020 -  & January 22*, 25, 30, February 1, 2, 4, 7, 2020
Gioachino Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia
Vito Priante (Figaro), Emily D’Angelo (Rosina), Santiago Ballerini (Almaviva), Renato Girolami (Bartolo), Brandon Cedel (Don Basilio), Simona Genga (Berta), Joel Allison (Fiorello), Vartan Gabrielian (Officer)
The Canadian Opera Company Chorus, Sandra Horst (chorus master), The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Speranza Scappucci (conductor)
Joan Font (director), Xevi Dorca (associate director and choreographer), Joan Guillén (set & costume designer), Albert Faura (lighting designer), Davida Tkach (associate lighting designer)

E. D’Angelo, V. Priante (© Michael Cooper)

Here we have Barbiere again, a revival of the now well-travelled production last seen here in 2015.

Director Joan Font is the founding director of Els Comediants, a theatre company in Barcelona (established in 1971). He has brought a troupe of 11 mute actors who seem to inhabit Doctor Bartolo’s house like a nest of mice (actually there were human-size rodents in Font’s production of La cenerentola in 2011). For example: at the climax of Act I, while the singers vividly enact the confusion that leads to its great musical crescendo, one of the servants has strenuously managed to entangle himself in the chandelier while the others run about in various stages of dismay. My impression is that most of audience managed to tune out these slapstick antics, mainly because the singers (who are, after all, supposed to be the centre of attention) were totally up the mark both vocally and dramatically.

The two truly outstanding performers demonstrating firmly established professionalism were Vito Priante (Figaro) and Renato Girolamo as Dr Bartolo.

Still establishing herself in the opera firmament, and demonstrating she belongs, is local rising star Emily D’Angelo as Rosina. It is a bit like a corny old biopic that just over four years ago she hobbled on stage with a broken foot to gain a place in the COC’s Ensemble Studio (and since then has sung at the Metropolitan Opera and won the Operalia top prize).

Almaviva is Santiago Ballerini who displays a nice, bright voice and charming presence as he gamely participates in the ploys Figaro contrives to further his wooing of Rosina. Another new voice to watch and listen for is Brandon Cedel who does terrific work as Don Basilio. Ensemble member Simona Genga is a stronger-than-usual Berta.

This is conductor Speranza Scappucci’s local debut (also her first Barbiere) and she seems to have sparked an instant fan base. She certainly generated ample Rossinian sparkle from the 48-member orchestra.

Michael Johnson



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