This Barber was one of the funniest I’ve ever seen, and the most interesting aspect is that the artists made comedy with the music. Case in point, Kathryn Lewek’s “Una voce poco fa.” I don’t recall ever laughing so hard during this aria. Instead of just working the bel canto coloratura (which she did in compelling and original ways, a hallmark of Ms. Lewek’s exquisite singing that we had already noticed in her Lucia here in Charlotte three years ago), she used it to match her acting in truly hilarious ways, taking advantage of the vocal leaps to portray the excitement of a teenager in love, with jumps and shrieks that had fantastic comic effect. The same can be said of Hyung Yun’s Figaro. Our good friend Victor Robertson’s Almaviva wasn’t far behind, and Steven Condy’s Dr. Bartolo was to die for.
Well known to the Charlotte public, Bernard Uzan’s direction put on stage once more a number of unexpected and successful tricks, like a lecherous Dr. Bartolo suddenly crossing the stage in pursuit of a young maid, and Ambroggio sleeping while leaning with his head on Almaviva’s shoulder, and keeping the same position with his head up in the air when Almaviva walks away.
Like Maestro Meena had mentioned to us in an email, this was indeed a pretty spectacular cast. All four principal singers did an excellent job. I knew and trusted our Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro from previous productions and they were just as good as always. Our Dr. Bartolo, Steven Condy, was having his Opera Carolina debut, and he matched his three companions with ease. TheBarber is nice to all singers, giving them all an opportunity to shine with their solo arias, and our four principal singers plus Kevin Langan as Don Basilio executed their pieces very competently.
The sets were more attractive on the street side – when turned to expose the interior of Dr. Bartolo’s home they were a bit generic. But the musical and comedic performance of these fine artists would have worked in any sets. Blocking and lighting were fine and the chorus did well.
Maestro Meena as usual was rather perfect in his conducting of the excellent Charlotte Symphony. When what is being played is a score so well-known as the Barber’s, it is easy for seasoned opera lovers to spot any hiccups from the orchestra. There weren’t any that I could notice, and the pit was lively and colorful.
A well-executed and funny Barber is always a pleasure, and this one has fully qualified as such. Readers at driving distance from Charlotte shouldn’t miss the last two performances of this show, on October 27 and 30. I look forward to the continuation of the season, with La Traviata on January 22, 26 and 28, and La Fanciulla del Weston April 23, 27 and 29.