Brilliant, to put it mildly
The Crosby Theater
07/02/2022 - and July, 8, 13, August 1, 6, 10, 20, 26, 2022
Gioachino Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia
Emily Fons (Rosina), Jack Swanson (Count Almaviva), Joshua Hopkins (Figaro), Kevin Burdette (Dr. Bartolo), Nicholas Newton (Don Basilio), Murrella Parton (Berta), Kyle Miller (Fiorello), Allen Michael Jones (Officer)
Santa Fe Opera Chorus, Susanne Sheston (Chorus Mistress), Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, Iván López-Reynoso (Conductor)
Stephen Barlow (Stage Director), Andrew D. Edwards (Scenic and Costume Designer), Christopher Akerlind (Lighting Designer), Mitchell Harper (Choreographer)
J. Hopkins & E. Fons (© Curtis Brown for SFO)
The Santa Fe Opera’s 2022 season was launched July 1st with a new production of Carmen, and last night the second installment of this season’s five operas opened with an exuberant and whimsical Barber of Seville.
Acclaimed director Stephen Barlow returns to Santa Fe with an inventive and high-spirited production. Barlow offers an unstoppable cascade of hilarious moments and unbridled talent in the pure buffa tradition. Spectators, and most likely performers as well, have no time to breathe. The staging harmoniously combines eras (wigs and hoodies, cell phones, and quill pens) and space (Seville and New Mexico). Andrew D. Edwards sets and costumes are stunning, and so is lighting by Christopher Akerling. Choreographer Mitchell Harper conceived short but hysterically funny segments, culminating with Berta's aria “Il vecchiotto cerca moglie.” The six principals are simply excellent. Joshua Hopkins is a biting Figaro with a wide baritone. Emily Fons, the rising mezzo-soprano star, makes Rosina’s fioriture sparkle with no sense of fear or danger. Kevin Burdette as Dr. Bartolo is irresistible, while bass-baritone Nicholas Newton sings a powerful and yet subtle “La calunnia.” Murella Parton is a perfect Berta, whether she takes the trash out or dances in a shimmering evening gown, surrounded by a chorus line in tail coats and top-hats. Jack Swanson is an acclaimed Almaviva. He is tasteful in “Ecco ridente,” and nothing short of spectacular in the excruciating “Cessa di più resistere,” a typical bravura aria where Swanson shows unwavering agility, easily reached high notes, in the appropriate Rossinian style.
In the pit, Maestro Iván López-Reynoso conducts a crystal-clear orchestra in a zesty performance with a notable sense of fun. And once is no custom, this writer will forgive those numerous spectators who could not wait to show their appreciation and applauded over the music.
This production is a milestone in the history of Barber of Seville. It will be hard to equal such an amount of talent and creativity, let alone surpass it. A DVD should be considered for the sake of posterity.