You have to hand it to the Vancouver Opera for continuing to satisfy opera aficionados in the city and also welcoming opera newbies to the wonderful world of dramatic, theatrical singing. They have been accountable for bringing the most beloved opera classics to Vancouver and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is one of the most recent shows that have graced the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage.
The Barber of Seville is known to be Gioachino Rossini’s greatest comic opera and was based on the French comedic play Le Barbier de Seville written in 1775 by Pierre Beaumarchais. It is one of the first Italian Opera to be showcased in North America as it withstood the test of time that even after two hundred years, its popularity still hasn’t diminished. The Barber of Seville has been described as the opera buffa (Italian comic opera) of all opera buffa’s and one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music. It has also made the list of the most performed opera around the world.
The story follows the love-struck Count Almaviva as he tries to win the affection of the beautiful Rosina. With the help of the clever schemes of a barber named Figaro, the count disguised himself as a humble, poor man named Lindoro making sure that if or when he wins Rosina’s love, it will be true and not for the money, riches, and stature that he can generously provide her. To make the story more complicated and interesting, Rosina’s guardian Dr. Bartolo will do everything he can to marry the heroine. Serenaded by the Count, the beautiful Rosina falls in love with the nobleman in disguise and tries to break free from the strong grasp of her wretched guardian. With Figaro still at their disposal, the lovers plotted more schemes against Dr. Bortolo as they try to overcome more obstacles so they can attain happiness in each other’s arms.
The Vancouver Opera version of The Barber of Seville was entertaining, musically ‘mind-blowing’ and was studded with a lot of funny, lovable moments. Set in a movie back-lot in Seville, Spain in the 40’s, The Vancouver Opera’s take on this classic made Rosina a young starlet, Figaro the studio hairstylist and Bartolo the studio owner and Rosina’s agent. The stage design was simple but served the purpose of a good backdrop for the story. The orchestra produced lively, lingering melodies and the opera singers delivered and performed a show worth remembering.
Mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy played the role of Rosina effortlessly and her technique in singing just leaves you in awe. At some points on the show, Eddy sounded like a chirping bird serenading you outside your window. It was pure magic. Baritone Joshua Hopkins who played the conniving barber performed with perfect grace and melody as well as Tenor Rene Barbera who played the lovestruck nobleman Count Almaviva. Hopkins and Barbera also showed such a range of singing skills while the rest of the cast performed with such proficiency and artistry that they were more than just support for the main characters.
Vancouver Opera’s The Barber of Seville was a treat to watch. All I can say is: bravo.
Photos by Tim Matheson