Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” pops off like a cork from a bottle of champagne, and bubbles up into intrigue, farce and frenzy before ending in marriage.
The intrigue is between Count Almaviva (disguised as the student Lindoro) and Rosina, whom he courts against the wishes of her guardian, Don Bartolo, who plans to marry her himself. The farce is in the complications which ensue as Almaviva and Rosina are assisted by Figaro, the town factotum and barber, in plotting against Don Bartolo. The frenzy is in the uproarious sextet and chorus which concludes Act One, in which the music is passed from singer to singer like a hot potato, in that blend of high spirits and fizzling malice which is Rossini’s alone.
Opera Carolina’s production is especially well-cast. Pride of place goes to Kathryn Lewek, whose singing in the title role of Opera Carolina’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” a few years ago was astonishing. Her performance of Rosina is equally remarkable, taking the hurdles of her part – the high notes, the wickedly difficult fioratura – with a bold delight in the risks taken. Her understanding of the bel canto style is superb, and she gave her role a quality of discovery hard to imagine for such a well-known – even hackneyed – a part as Rosina.
Neither Hyung Yun as Figaro or Victor Ryan Robertson as Almaviva were on this exalted level, though both were quite good. Hyung Yun has a lovely voice, virile, agile, and big, but has a curious inability…