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An Exhilarating 'Barber of Seville' from Florentine Opera

May. 9, 2017
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Photo Credit: Kathy Wittman

The Florentine Opera Company’s season finale, a riveting production of Gioachino Rossini’s ever popular and always vocally challenging Barber of Seville, was perhaps the company’s best offering this season. Under Bill Florescu’s discrete direction, the humor of the work was given full reign but with an understated approach to the subtler elements of the text. 

The beautifully mounted backdrops of old Seville created a comfortably suitable setting for the merriment as the outstanding cast ignited an unanticipated spark of vocal and dramatic excitement, not the least of which was the attractive stage presence of the principals. Cutting a handsome, eye-catching figure onstage, baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco worked his way effortlessly through the demanding role of the barber, Figaro, bringing charismatic energy to a character whose main functions appears to be assisting Count Almaviva with various disguises in his pursuit of the lovely Rosina. Taylor Stayton cast an equally handsome figure as the count, his appealing reedy tenor voice perfectly suited to the scale-hopping coloratura demands of Rossini’s score, yet his finely nuanced performance added to the romantic appeal of his character. 

Their duets were a pleasure to behold, as were many of the larger ensemble pieces so delightfully assembled in the concluding scene. The superb cast demonstrated remarkable vocal flexibility in spades. As Rosina, mezzo-soprano Carol Garcia needed some warming up during her initial aria, but her lovely if light-hued vocalization provided an endearing contrast to her male counterparts and she looked lovely onstage.

As Borolo, Rosina’s jealous, self-serving guardian, baritone Andrew Wikowske almost stole the show with his mind-boggling display of rapid-fire vocal pyrotechnics in the second act, demonstrating Rossini at his most unbridled tongue-in-cheek hilarity. As Don Basilio, the music master, bass Peter Volpe makes the most of his famous solo on gossip, while Katrina Thurman as Berta the maid received some appreciative audience attention. This outstanding production rests on the remarkable vocalization of an inspired cast.

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