Review: ‘The Barber of Seville’

'The Barber of Seville'

The L.A. Opera delivers yet another supremely delicious bel-canto comedy.

After this season’s opener, “The Elixir of Love,” the L.A. Opera delivers yet another supremely delicious bel-canto comedy, “The Barber of Seville,” this one the finest of them all. There’s something about the particular magic of this enchanting repertory that has caught hold with this unpredictable opera company. This time, Rossini’s tidy, splendidly crafted comedy achieves a kind of perfection, galvanized by Nathan Gunn’s great opening aria, “Largo al factotum,” which, from then on, held the full, cheering house in thrall.

There is perfection in Michele Mariotti’s conducting and Emilio Sagi and Xavier Ulacia’s staging, which superbly balances the personal and the comedic: As the thwarted suitor Bartolo, debuting basso buffo Bruno Pratico offers a portrayal of absurdity as well as genuine loss. There’s subtle chicanery in Andrea Silvestrelli’s thunderous yet vulnerable Basilio, which follows this baritone’s hilarious Gianni Schicchi from last season. In her long-overdue debut, Joyce DiDonato gives us a Rosina that mixes mischief and genuine passion. And, as the questing Almaviva, another welcome debutant, tenor Juan Diego Flores, does not disappoint with his show-stopping performance of the opera’s killer final aria, “Cessa di piu resistere,” often omitted out of mercy to the tenor but reinstated here in full glory.

“Barber” often degenerates into overriped burlesque, but here it is managed with love, respect and an awareness of the opera’s antic wealth.

The Barber of Seville

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, 3098 seats, $260

Production

A L.A. Opera presentation of a Teatro Real Madrid production of a two-act opera by Gioacchino Rossini and Cesare Sterbini. Directed by Xavier Ulacia. Production, Emilio Sagi; conducting, Michele Mariotti.

Creative

Sets, Ferenc Corbella; costumes, Renata Schlussheim; lighting, Eduardo Bravo; choreography, Muria Casteljon. Opened and reviewed, November 29, 2009, runs through Dec. 19. Running time: 3 HR, 10 MIN.

Cast

Figaro - Nathan Gunn Rosina - Joyce DiDonato Almaviva - Juan Diego Flores Bartolo - Bruno Pratico Basilio - Andrea Silvestrelli Fiorello - Jose Adan Perez

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