Review: Chemistry of the cast of 'Barber of Seville' captures key aspect of storytelling

Published: Monday, Oct. 5 2015 7:24 a.m. MDT

The lovestruck Count Almaviva, played by Robert McPherson, and Figaro, played by Will Liverman, craft a clever scheme in Utah Opera's production of "The Barber of Seville." (Utah Opera) The lovestruck Count Almaviva, played by Robert McPherson, and Figaro, played by Will Liverman, craft a clever scheme in Utah Opera's production of "The Barber of Seville." (Utah Opera)

A tangible excitement filled the air of the Capitol Theatre as the orchestra stuck the first few chords of the overture of “The Barber of Seville” on May 15.

Utah Opera is finishing its successful season with one of the best-loved comedies in operatic history.

Audience members quickly swooned over the charming and love-struck Count Almaviva, played by Robert McPherson, who returns to Utah Opera after playing in last season’s production of “Rigoletto.”

Almaviva is desperately in love with the lovely Rosina, played by Utah Opera sweetheart Celena Shafer, who most recently played opposite McPherson in “Rigoletto” in January 2012. Rosina, upon hearing the Count’s serenading, is smitten as well.

And who wouldn’t fall for McPherson’s smooth and buttery tenor voice as he effortlessly executes each aria, taking the audience on a delightful ride of storytelling from beginning to end?

The only thing that stands in the Count and Rosina’s way is Dr. Bartolo, Rosinia’s humorously grumpy benefactor played by Michael Wanko. Wanko returns to Salt Lake after most recently performing with Utah Opera in “Gianni Schicchi” in May 2010. Bartolo has vowed to marry Rosina — and her dowry.

Thanks to some crafty plotting from the town barber Figaro, played by Will Liverman in his debut with Utah Opera, Almaviva agrees to play a drunken soldier looking for lodging in Bartolo’s household to win Rosina's love.

Clever disguises, confidential notes and a boisterous brawl in Bartolo’s household later, Almaviva once again finds himself disguised, this time as a music teacher, to whisk Rosina away.

But Bartolo is suspicious and it will be up to Figaro to save the day.

Tara Faircloth directs a masterful tapestry of storytelling, music and visual display, leaving the audience craning their necks for where to look next.

The full ensemble cast executed the beloved comedy with its own flair, oftentimes breaking down the fourth wall to share a joke with the audience.

The principal vocal talent helped move the story forward, allowing audience members to be transported to Seville itself.

Shafer and McPherson work marvelously together, complementing each other even in the most complex of arias.

Liverman, who at first seemed to let the music get ahead of his acting, caught up to the talent of his constituents. By the end of the first act, Liverman’s momentum was in full swing, bringing to life the playful Figaro who will share the secrets of the town if it can make him a dime.

Conductor Jerry Steichen, principal pops conductor for the Utah Symphony since 2002, directed the orchestra across the pages of sometimes staccato and erratic notes flawlessly. The bar was set during the performance's overture — one that was met by a combined effort from both cast and crew.

The overall chemistry of the cast seemed to have set a spell on the audience, letting them fall in love with love, comedy and Italy all over again.

Remaining performances of “The Barber of Seville” will run May 17 at 7:30 p.m. and May 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Capitol Theatre ticket office.

Ticket prices range from $13 to $78. Prices 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 by email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com or on Twitter: @emmiliebuchanan

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