Saturday, August 06, 2011

Merola Opera: Barbiere, 2nd Cast

Art with Elders ExhibitFriday night I was back to hear the 2nd cast of Merola Opera's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. As the Count, tenor Daniel Curran has a light, clear & even voice and was a sustained comic actor in the disguise scenes. I got scared when his voice suddenly disappeared near the end of his 1st aria, but he recovered quickly. Baritone Mark Diamond was a commanding Figaro, & his exuberant "Largo al factotum" got an extended round of applause. He also somersaulted across the stage for us. Mezzo Renée Rapier's voice has a thick core, & I like that its chesty quality extends through her high notes. Her Rosina is impatient yet firm. Baritone John Maynard is a physically impressive Bartolo & a formidable obstacle for the lovers. His voice is powerful and mature sounding.

As Don Basilio, Peixin Chen made an immediate impact with his amazingly huge, sonorous & fathomless bass, which came out naturally and effortlessly. His sound is still in my head, & I want to hear his Sarastro. I also liked his amusing evil laugh. Soprano Marina Boudart Harris as Berta supplied the evening's high notes, & she made them comically gasping in the Act I finale. She expressed exasperation well in her Act II aria. The role of the servant Ambrogio was uncredited (Cooper Nolan?), but I found his baby-faced presence funny. He made ridiculous high-pitched whines in lieu of speech.

Conductor Mark Morash kept things moving at an even pace which was not too fast. The Act I finale communicated a feeling of exhaustion. In the storm music I liked the immediacy of the orchestra's sound & the blaring French horn.

Watching the staging a 2nd time around, I found its eccentricities more distracting and less convincing. During the overture Fiorello helps the Count change clothes, but a person sitting behind me whispered to his companion, "That must be Bartolo." I think it is not clear that the opening scene takes place in front of a house. Characters stand on tables or crawl under them but rarely sit at them. The glaring lighting was eye-wateringly painful for most of Act I.

Cast 2 performs again Sunday, August 7 at 2:00 PM.

§ Merola Opera Program
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Gioachino Rossini

Conductor, Mark Morash
Director, Roy Rallo

Rosina - Renée Rapier
Berta - Marina Boudart Harris
Count Almaviva - Daniel Curran
Figaro - Mark Diamond
Doctor Bartolo - John Maynard
Don Basilio - Peixin Chen
Fiorello - Suchan Kim
Ambrogio - Cooper Nolan?

Friday, August 5, 8:00 PM
Herbst Theatre

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