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Utah Opera seeks to meet high expectations with 'The Barber of Seville'

Published: Saturday, May 4 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

Leading lovers, Count Almaviva is played by Robert McPherson and Rosina is played by Celena Shafer.

Utah Opera

The feat of performing one of the most loved operatic comedies is not something the Utah Opera's cast of "The Barber of Seville" takes lightly.

Director Tara Faircloth, who is returning to the Utah Opera after having directed "Rigoletto" in January 2012, said the task of meeting audience expectations gives the cast a feeling of excitement and energy.

"The story is best told through characterization," Faircloth said. "This show is full of crazy moments, and I like to be very clean and specific [in my direction]. Specificity and surprise... that is the essence of comedy."

"The Barber of Seville" is the story of two lovers, Count Almaviva and Rosina, who wish to marry. However, Rosina’s guardian, Dr. Bartolo, hopes to marry his young and beautiful ward himself. Figaro, the barber, who is tapped into the happenings around town, devises a plan to help the count in exchange for what he hopes will amount to a nice pay off.

Utah Opera newcomer Will Liverman will join in the mayhem, taking on the role of Figaro. Though Liverman may feel the magnitude of the role he will play, he believes he is up for the task.

“It’s daunting because it’s a popular show. Everyone knows the show and the aria (Figaro) sings,” Liverman said.

Opera buffs and novices alike will recognize the familiar tune as Liverman sings the familiar “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!” — one of the most recognizable tunes in the world of opera.

Liverman said the challenge for him comes in finding ways to keep the music fresh and interesting.

“I try and find ways within the text to bring out different colors in words and doing different cadenzas, playing with everything I can think of,” Liverman said. “It’s about the little things that keep it interesting for the audience.”

Utah Opera favorites Robert McPherson and Celena Shafer will reprise their roles: McPherson as the count after having played the role most recently with France’s Opera de Vichy and Shafer as Rosina.

McPherson and Shafer will rekindle their on-stage love again in the production of "The Barber of Seville." The pair have played opposite each other three times previously, including in the Utah Opera’s January 2012 production of "Rigoletto."

“There is something sacred about your leading lady,” McPherson said. “There is this wonderful bond.”

Shafer said she loved working with McPherson because she knows how he works and what to expect.

“We know each other's voices and how the voice works,” Shafer said. “Our voices go really well together. It’s like graham crackers and milk.”

McPherson said he hopes that after the show, the audience will take with them an appreciation of the power of the human voice.

“We are in a world where everything is amplified, digital downloadable, auto-tuned, and pumped up to volumes that are near deafening,” he said.

Often times, what is lost, is the recognition of a pure, unfiltered human voice, McPherson said.

“With the human voice, there is this amazing ability to move — either to tears or to laughter — so my hope is that people come and are moved by the experience of pure human expression.”

"The Barber of Seville" will run May 11, 13, 15 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. and on May 19 at 2 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre.

Utah Opera Principal Coach Carol Anderson will host a free opera prelude lecture one hour prior to each show. Lectures will be held in the orchestra seating level of the theater.

Additionally, Christopher McBeth, artistic director for the Utah Opera, will host a free Q-and-A immediately after each performance in the orchestra seating level.

Tickets for the performance are priced from $13 to $78. Tickets can be purchased by calling 801-355-2787, visiting the Capitol Theatre ticked office, or online at www.utahopera.org. Some $10 youth tickets and USUO upbeat tickets (tickets for patrons under the age of 30) are available for the Monday and Wednesday performances. Inquiries regarding group rates will be taken at 801-533-6683. Ticket prices will increase $5 when purchased on the day of the performance.

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her at ebuchanan@deseretnews.com

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