The IU Opera Theater is presenting Rossini’s "The Barber of Seville" in a comical, colorful, energy packed production. Saturday night, with Phillip Dothard as Figaro, the wily barber, coming down the right side of the Musical Arts Center, singing, clowning, tossing his handbills and even adjusting a coiffure or two the production showed a willingness to fully exploit the comic while giving due attention to the tender and even slightly serious moments.
Guest stage director Kay Walker Castaldo reminded the audience almost immediately that this was a 21st century production as the people of the village in an almost ghostly fashion crossed and recrossed the stage in mechanical time with the music. However, she was never above peppering even dramatic moments with downright slapstick and built the mad chaos of the ending of act one with what looked from the outside like wild abandon.
IU’s tall tenor, Jordan Bluth was a sweetly singing, love struck, Count Almaviva who goes into partnership with the Barber in pursuit of the fair Rosina. Rosina, Jennifer Feinstein was both a winsome and an assertive lady. Feinstein offers the role in its original scoring for a mezzo. She alternates with Tiffany Rosenquist who sings the role in a well accepted soprano variation.
David Swain was Dr. Bartolo, the heavy of the show. Dr. Bartolo is Rosina’s guardian and at least in his own eyes, a prime candidate to marry her and her dowry. Swain was always in sure vocal command. Dramatically he was sufficiently overbearing and even at times a bit sympathetic.
Dr. Bartolo’s allie in his plotting was big voiced bass Young Ju Lee as Don Basilio, Rosini’s singing teacher. Wandering in and out throughout the show, almost always to good comic effect was Quinto Ott as Dr. Bartolo’s hapless servant, Ambrogio.
The IU production of "The Barber of Seville" is in Italian with English super titles. It was led by IU’s Principal Guest Conductor Uriel Segal with stage direction by guest Kay Walker Castaldo. Area opera fans may remember Castaldo’s dramatically tense work in the Indianapolis Opera’s "The Pearl Fishers" this past fall. It was good to see that comedy is another of her fortes.
The IU Opera Theater’s production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville plays this Friday and Saturday at eight. You can find an interview with the other of the Figaros, Jason Plourde, on our Arts Interviews page .