by Robert Rollin
This past Sunday, Opera Circle in conjunction with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra presented a fine production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville, one of the great comic operas of the Italian repertoire. As with all comic opera, pacing is critical to a successful production, and the Opera Circle Company moved deftly through the four scenes, never bogging down in detail — this despite the extra intermission required by the Bohemian National Hall’s scene-change space limitations. Notwithstanding, the building, with its pre-turn of the century high ceilings, magnificent staircase, and wonderful gallery space, made for a lovely setting. The carefully planned blocking and staging helped the flow, and enhanced the comically-motivated scenario.
Three talented singers led the male dominated cast: baritone John Grey Watson, a Cleveland Institute of Music-trained Northeast Ohio native, was excellent as Figaro. His light baritone range was appropriate to the shrewd, politically savvy barber, who helps thwart the aging Dr. Bartolo’s plans to marry young Rosina, his ward. His experience on an Oberlin-sponsored Italian opera tour no doubt helped his impressive fluidity. He displayed great poise and comfort throughout the opera, from his very opening first-scene aria. The show hinges on his ability to make the canny barber seem real, and he did this with great success. [Read more…]